It was pretty well organized. When we got there, there was already a crowd and someone leading with a microphone. We got to work collecting signatures.
After a while one of the protest leaders got into a debate with a journalist. The leader asked the crowd what religions they were a part of. Everybody answered, and there were all sorts of people there.
We were confused until we found out later that the journalist was asking if we were representatives of a religious sect. Apparently, journalists have convinced themselves that the protest was only attended by members of this religious sect. Interestingly enough, after learning that this protest was attended by all sorts of people, the local news persisted with the story that only members of the sect attended the protest. I wouldn't be surprised if this were conspiratorial in nature (though it could also just be the result of sloppy journalism). If you are on the losing side of an issue and have no good arguments on your side, it is best to distract people from the issue itself. It's a good method. It's even got me talking about religion instead of shale gas.
|The protest when we first got there.|
|Bottles filled with water poisoned from shale gas drilling|
|Yulia's mom collecting signatures|
|Dead chickens being used as a prop at the protest.|