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Thousands 'Stroll' Through Moscow To Protest Putinism

  • RFE/RL

MOSCOW -- Thousands of Russians have turned out in Moscow for an unsanctioned display of opposition to newly reinstalled President Vladimir Putin.

Putin's critics announced the so-called stroll as a show of unity in the face of tough police crackdowns -- including hundreds of arrests -- in the days surrounding his May 7 inauguration.

On May 13, many in the crowd were wearing white ribbons to show support for the pro-democracy movement that's been buffeted by flawed parliamentary and presidential elections in the past six months.

Many reports put the number of participants at around 10,000, although police said there were 2,000 people taking part.

Russian novelist Boris Akunin and other cultural figures -- including writer Dmitry Bykov, musician Andrei Makarevich, and novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya -- were among the "strollers."

Follow RFE/RL Russian Service's continuing coverage of the event (in Russian)

Taking a page from the playbook of their counterparts in neighboring Belarus, Russian activists have taken to alternative-style protests including flash mobs, sing-alongs, and sit-ins to avoid arrest.


Correspondents reported that there were very few placards or slogans in evidence at the May 13 happening.

RFE/RL's Russian Service says police did not appear to be trying to disperse or otherwise interfere with the "stroll."

Dozens of participants in other recent public-walk protests and various sit-ins have been detained by Russian police, prompting complaints of gross violations by local law enforcement.

Russian officials, including Moscow local duma deputy Vladimir Platonov, have defended security forces' actions.

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Hundreds of people have been detained at protests targeting the inauguration of Putin for a third term as president that follows four years as prime minister to comply with a two-consecutive-term limit in Russia's constitution.

The latest job swap between Putin and Dmitry Medvedev was completed one day after Putin was sworn in, when the State Duma confirmed Medvedev as prime minister, sparking more anger among Kremlin detractors.

Putin served as Medvedev's prime minister after completing his first two consecutive terms as president between 2000 and 2008.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service and AP

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