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Petition Calling For Putin's Ouster Gaining Momentum In Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
(RFE/RL) -- More than 2,000 Russian intellectuals, cultural figures, and ordinary citizens have signed a petition calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The petition was initially published by the online magazine "Yezhednevny zhurnal" and on a separate website designed specifically for the petition. As of this afternoon, more than 2,200 people had signed, according to the "Yezhednevny zhurnal" site.

"There can be no true reform in Russia as long as Putin has real power in the country," the petition reads. "Returning the country to the mainstream of democratic development can only begin when Putin no longer has control of the levers [of power] of the state and society. During his years in power, Putin has become a symbol of ruthlessness toward his own citizens and Russia has become a corrupt and unpredictable country."

Writer and Soviet-era dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, who signed the petition, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that opposition in society to Putin's rule is growing steadily.

We are accustomed to hopeless situations. But we still need to do something because there is a moral imperative.
Yelena Bonner
"There were illusions, but now those illusions are fading," Bukovsky says. "With the latest events, with the wave of protests across the country, a consensus is emerging. People are beginning to understand that the current dead end is the regime that was established in 2000."

Other prominent signatories to the petition include human rights activist Yelena Bonner, widow of the late Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov; the actor Aleksei Devotchenko, who starred in the popular television crime drama "Streets of Broken Lamps": comedian Viktor Shenderovich, the creator of the 1990s political satire show "Kukly"; and Mikhail Borzikin, the front man for the rock group "Televizor." Opposition figures including Boris Nemtsov and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov also signed.

The editor of the "Yezhednevny zhurnal" portal, Aleksandr Ryklin, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that the site was attacked by hackers today. Ryklin said the attack was likely connected to the petition campaign. Both the "Yezhednevny zhurnal" and the special additional site were working by midday but were slow to load.

The petition follows a series of incidents in which cultural figures have come out to criticize Russia's rulers. At a concert in Moscow on March 7, Yury Shevchuk, the front man for the rock group DDT, lambasted the ruling elite in a four-minute rant between songs. Devotchenko posted a diary on his blog criticizing fellow actors for making what he called "pseudo-patriotic films."

It also comes amid a wave of protests against the authorities in various Russian regions, most dramatically a demonstration in Kaliningrad in late January that attracted an estimated 10,000 people. It also comes as Russia prepares to vote in local elections on March 14.

Bukovsky says the petition's signatories felt compelled to act despite the fact that Putin appears to have a firm grip on power. (Sociologist Aleksei Grazhdankin, deputy head of Russia's independent Levada polling center, says Putin remains hugely popular, despite a slump in polls in the wake of the economic crisis.)

"We are accustomed to hopeless situations. But we still need to do something because there is a moral imperative," Bukovsky says. "We cannot tolerate lawlessness and repression. It is impermissible for us to tolerate this, regardless of what the authorities think."

RFE/RL's Russian Service contributed to this report
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Laura from: NY
March 11, 2010 15:27
Can you explain why as of now, 10:25 am EST, the site says there are only 666 signatures as opposed to the 2200 you've cited?
In Response

by: Moderator from: Prague
March 12, 2010 08:28
The article specifically cites the list on the "Yezhednevny zhurnal" site, which on March 11 was maintaining its list of signatories separately from the additional site, which kept a lower figure, apparently because of a lag time. As of today, the two sites have been conflated and a single list can be found at www.putinavotstavku.ru. The current number of signatories (as of 0930 CET) stands at 2,049. (The drop from yesterday's "YE" total is probably due to hoax signatures -- "Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, president," for example -- being weeded from the list.)

by: Andrei from: Moscow
March 11, 2010 15:54
Please let Russia be, the overwhelming majority of Russians not only support, but adore Putin, we want him around for many years to come. He saved Russia from near destruction and helped the country rise from the ashes after the debacle of the 1990’s and the Yeltsin era. I, we implore you to leave us and our government alone and stop intervening or meddling in our internal affairs by aiding those that want to divide our country and bring chaos to Russian politics. Putin is here to stay God willing and we, the majority of the Russian people, will be all the better for having him stay in power.
In Response

by: Artemiy from: Southern Europe
March 12, 2010 13:37
More or less clever Russians hate Putin.
Everything what is written in the petition is truth.
Being Russian, even here, in Europe, I am afraid of him and was he is doing.
If you refer to God, then, although for some reason God still did not kill Putin, but God also wants this petition to appear! The only good thing that is due to Putin is Sochi Olympics, but if he remains in power, we will fail it as we failed in Vancouver.

Put`ku gnat!
In Response

by: Artemiy from: Southern Europe
March 12, 2010 13:43
Andrei claims that the overwhelming majority of Russians not only support, but adore Putin. Some decades ago the overwhelming majority of Germans not only supported, but adored Hitler. Fortunately, this comparison is not completely correct, because the claim of Andrei is not true.
In Response

by: Natalia from: kiyv
March 12, 2010 17:29
I agree with the person who said that when he looked in Putin's eyes he saw only three letters- K ,G anb B. Whoever becomes a KGB agent can not be a decent person, they learned to lie, to kill, betray everybody, they do not have any believes. He want try to be a ruler forever. he already became a millioner. This what he want for himself. He do not wooru about Russins.
I have a dream that Rushian people will understand soon that while he rules -every other nations will afraid of Russia but will not respect.
In Response

by: ezekiel from: kharkov
March 14, 2010 14:51
nobody can fail to see Putin's achievements as a leader, and a patriot. and as it is, leadership comes with a lot of challenges and choices to make. sometimes you step on laws of society, that is understood!, but it does not mean you silence the voice of democracy, murder human activists in cold blood, mass arresting of opposition leaders, engaging and giving government support to figures of corruption, that see almost 80 percent of the country languish in poverty in a country with vast resources and opportunities. you can even wonder if in Russia we have an opposition in parliament! that is why there needs to be a clear framework on the call of fairness, equity and a clear voice of democracy. its unfortunate that not many are party to Putin's rule, but rather afraid to talk of it!

by: Johann from: USA
March 11, 2010 15:58
Fall of Sovet style communism that was started by Gorbachev and finished by Yeltsin, brought Premier Putin to power. There is a scharp difference beatween Russia today 2010 and Yeltsins Russia 2003.
Under Yeltsin people didn't get paid their pensions. Companies paid out salories, not in money but in barter trade.
( Sometimes people got paid out in Vodka).
I have never been in Russia, but I like their Vodka and like to read their novels. Russians have told me that they are mutch better of today, than when Gorbachev and Yeltsin ruled the country. Under Yeltsin, Russia's budget became similar and that of Belgium ( a country of 9,000.000 people).
Russia's export plungered, and their population started to schrink a lot.
Drug use was up, drinking was up and anarchy was permenant.
So what is different today ???
Capitalism (not anarcism) is creating a lot of jobs in Russia. Export is up a lot
Russians have gained pride. Drinking is put under control. Skinheads are arrested and put in prison. Troublemakers are put under control. Birthrate is up, and Russians are starting to become proud to be Russians.
Rule of law is the norm.
So who is to thank for this ???
In Response

by: Elena from: USA
March 12, 2010 14:46
Johann,
May be you need to spend some time living in Russia and feel for yourself what it's like. I have no doubt that after that experience your comment will change.
In Response

by: Jeff from: Tbilisi, Georgia
March 18, 2010 13:14
I have to agree with Elena, unfortunately. I lived in Russia from 1992 to 2000, and have been back sense. The living standards have risen in the big cities (although the poor countryside is the worst I've seen in any of the former Soviet republics), as has government spending, but this is due to petroleum sales and is not sustainable, especially since Russia does not invest in its infrastructure. As for drug abuse, troublemakers, etc. - no better now than 10 years ago when Yeltsin resigned (not 2003, by the way). Democracy did not take root in Russia in the 90s because 1) democratic traditions were weak, and more importantly 2) people conflated democracy with capitalism, and the kind of capitalism taking shape then bore little resemblance to social democracy. In a way, it's worse now - the same economic fascism, only coupled with neo-Soviet disrespect for human rights and the individual. I think only through political [pluralism placing human rights at the forefront will save Russia - not only politically, but economically as well.

by: coll from: scotlanf
March 12, 2010 10:26
oh yes putin is great he runs russia like a crook (gas prices with ukraine) human rights in russia is terrible anyone that is a feirce critic of putin seems to end up assasinated yes he has brought the country up from the ashes but so did hitler with germany

by: gimba from: Not the local
March 12, 2010 17:54
People composed this petition - losers. Some of them were in power in 90, and have taken a hand in disorder of Russia.
In Russia them now concern as to mentally sick.
Clever people in Russia do not test hatred to Putin, I to that an example ;)
To compare Putin to Hitler not correctly so after all any popular politician can be compared to Hitler.
And into the Olympic Games account in Vancouver... It is necessary to train better, here and all secret. Putin here is absolutely not guilty ;)

by: Julia from: Warsaw
March 13, 2010 00:23
I've signed the petition. It is not perfect, but at least I completely agree with its words. It is very important to us to be a FREE nation, not only STRONG even if others think differently. We should be free from the dictatorships of all kinds. Please, do not stress economical reasons. As you can see, by now they haven't risen us from the knees. It is tough and requires a lot of work. Nevertheless it is possible. No country has received its freedom from the heaven. All of them are handmade. If they could have done, we also can.
In Response

by: Ben from: london
March 15, 2010 08:43
2000 signatures from a population of 140 million people shows how unseroius you guys are.This figure does not represent the opinion of majority of Russians.You are talking about a free nation,you must have a different agenda.Today they are many russians living across the globe.some of them are students and business men.If Nigeria have the developement that Russia has, many Nigerians living abroad would have gone back to Africa.Putin paid all the debts owed by soviet gov.During the Economic crisis, Putin was able use Russia's reserves to bail the country out.You do not value what you have in Putin and Medvedev.You need to visit Nigeria.Nigeria is the 5th oil producing country in the WORLD.Yet mojority of Nigerians are living in abject POVERTY.THE BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO RUSSIA IS PUTIN AND MEDVEDEV.Due to improvement in Russia, there less Russian prostitues across EU.Russian women now take pride in the themselves.

by: Pro-Russia from: Asia
March 15, 2010 13:12
RFE - as usual : pro-'liberal' and anti-conservative and obssessively anti-Putin. Why anti-Putin? Because Putin is against those 'liberal' politicians in USA and the EU. Never mind if the politicians these 'liberals' support are thieves and thugs akin to those that brought Russia to near ruin in the 1990s. Putin brought stability and pride back to Russia. The American and European 'liberals' hate that and will continually denigrate Putin. Their hope is a weak Russia that they can manipulate for the own nefarious ambitions. Maybe Russians should look to us in the East than always kowtowing to the West who always think they are right and the best.

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