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Antigovernment Protests Hit Russian Far East

VLADIVOSTOK (Reuters text and video) -- About 1,000 demonstrators called for the Russian government to resign during a peaceful march in Vladivostok on March 15, the latest protest linked to the economic crisis in Russia.

Vladivostok, in Russia's Far East, has been the scene of some of the biggest anti-government protests since a global economic crisis enveloped Russia last year and hit its economy hard, leaving hundreds of thousands of people unemployed.

"Putin resign. Government resign," the marchers shouted as they marched through the city behind a police escort.

Their anger was aimed at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his government's policies to combat the economic crisis.

Last year, the government tried to protect its domestic car manufacturing industry by introducing a tariff on imports but the move angered consumers particularly in the Far East, where they import cars from Japan.

The demonstrators in the officially sanctioned march were a mixture of pensioners waving Communist flags and young people. They grievances ranged from the rising price of food and medicine, car import tariffs and growing unemployment.

In December, the Russian government flew riot police from Moscow to Vladivostok to confront an unsanctioned protest where they detained 100 people.