Russia's presidential election has left Vladimir Putin's grip on power intact, but in Moscow, his opponents are trying to take control of the streets—and the parks, and the garbage collection. Scores of opposition activists won seats on the capital's 125 district councils, and they aim to use that foothold to build power from the ground up, inspiring other cities along the way, the Wall Street Journal finds. The 71 newly elected deputies hail from the months-old "Our City" coalition, and make up 4.5% of the 1,560 district council members.
"This can be a beginning for our generation, a way to train ourselves to run the country," says a 20-year-old activist elected to a district council, which the Journal explains can challenge decisions made by the districts' executive bosses, who report to the mayor. "Real politics isn't just fighting in the street. It is helping people in their daily lives," she says. "This work might be tedious, but it is more important than standing back and criticizing. Someone needs to get involved." Moscow was the only region not to give Putin a majority in Sunday's vote, and his opponents aim to recall the Kremlin-installed mayor and replace him with their own candidate. (Read more Moscow stories.)