Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Russia

Russians Attend Mass Protests

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Moscow.
Tens of thousands of people rallied in Moscow.
By RFE/RL
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in Moscow and other Russian cities in the largest protest to date against alleged fraud in the December 4 parliamentary elections.

The demonstration in the capital, which drew significantly more people than a similar rally two weeks ago, signaled mounting discontent against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's rule.  
 
Organizers say more than 100,000 flocked to Moscow's Sakharov Prospekt, a broad avenue about 2 1/2 kilometers from the Kremlin. Many chanted "Russia without Putin" and carried signs with slogans like "Russia will be free." The independent Internet television station Dozhd TV reported that 80,000 people passed through metal detectors. Police estimated a more modest 28,000 attended.
 
Anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny, who was released from jail this week after serving a 15-day sentence for participating in an earlier protest, praised the size of the crowd, which many observers said was the largest demonstration since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago
 
"I see enough people here to take the Kremlin and the government building right now. But we are a peaceful force. We will not do that. Not just yet. But if these swindlers and thieves continue to deceive us, tell us lies, and steal from us, we will take it ourselves," Navalny said.

In Pictures: The Best Russian Protest Signs
 
Demonstrators are demanding that the authorities annul the results of the December 4 parliamentary elections, in which Putin's ruling United Russia party barely maintained their majority in the State Duma amid widespread reports of voter fraud. They are also demanding that new elections be held with unregistered opposition parties allowed to participate as well as the resignations of top Central Election Commission officials.

In an attempt to assuage the mounting public discontent, President Dmitry Medvedev on December 22 proposed a series of reform measures, including the restoration of the direct election of regional governors and an easing of the rules for registering candidates and parties for elections.
 
Heavy Police Presence
 
Addressing the crowd, longtime opposition figure and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov mocked Medvedev and said he did not trust him to follow through on the measures.
 
"We don't believe [Medvedev's recent promises of political reforms]. We don't believe him. He already promised modernization, innovation, 'freedom is better than nonfreedom.' Of course, he's a well-known blogger, it's true, but he never became a president," Nemtsov said.
Former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin, a close Putin ally who resigned in late September and has since expressed sympathy for the protesters, also addressed the crowd. "I'm here today because I'm for fair elections," he said. "I do not agree with the results of this election and I think everyone responsible must be brought to account, even prosecuted, and [Central Election Commission head Vladimir] Churov should be dismissed." 
 
Heavy police cordons surrounded demonstrators, who had to pass through metal detectors to get to the rally site, which was surrounded by metal barriers. A police helicopter hovered overhead.
 
Nevertheless, the protests in the capital proceeded largely without incident and had a festive mood.
 
There were also references to former Czech President Vaclav Havel, a playwright, human rights advocate, and former anticommunist dissident who died on December 18. Neither Medvedev nor Putin offered condolences for Havel's death and Russia declined to send high-ranking officials to his funeral in Prague on December 23. 
 
Journalist Olga Romanova said that unlike the authorities, the Russian people honor Havel's memory. There were reports of protesters carrying portraits of Havel with the slogan: "We Need such a President."
 
There were also numerous references to Putin's remark in his December 15 live call-in show that the white ribbons protesters wear resemble condoms. Journalist and music critic Atemy Troitsky addressed the crowd dressed as a condom and one protester held a placard showing Putin with a condom wrapped around his head.
 
In a wry reference to Putin's alleged estrangement from his wife, Lyudmila, Troitsky said, "What he doesn't do with his wife he does to the country."
 
Far Eastern Protests
 
The day's first rallies took place in Far East towns of Blagoveshensk, Khabarovsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and Vladivostok, where people braved freezing temperatures and snowstorms to take part in demonstrations organized by many different opposition groups. Some posters carried by demonstrators in Vladivostok called for Putin to be put on trial.
 
"The people can explode in a second," Stanislav Goryansky, a member of the opposition Yabloko party, told demonstrators in Blagoveshensk in the far-eastern Amur region.
 
Some estimates say as many as 100,000 people attended the rally in MoscowSome estimates say as many as 100,000 people attended the rally in Moscow
x
Some estimates say as many as 100,000 people attended the rally in Moscow
Some estimates say as many as 100,000 people attended the rally in Moscow
There were few reports of arrests or violence at the protests, which largely proceeded peacefully.
 
RFE/RL's Russian Service reports that 20 people were detained during protests in Barnaul in the Siberian region of Altai. They were released after three hours and ordered to appear in court on December 26.
 
Human rights activist Pavel Chikov tweeted that police detained and later released 60 people in Nizhny Novgorod. They are also required to appear in court on December 26.
 
And in St. Petersburg, police briefly detained six leftist activists but later released them after an appeal from Sergei Mironov, leader of the party A Just Russia, according to a tweet by local journalist Arseny Smolyak.

​Once hugely popular strongman Putin, who has led Russia for 12 years -- in two presidential terms and then as prime minister -- is poised to win his presidency back in March elections. He could stay in power until 2024.
 
His United Russia party, which held vast majority in the previous Duma, lost 77 seats in the December 4 elections, in a sign of  people's frustration with Putin's dominance.  
 
His opponents accused the authorities of election fraud and claimed the party's performance in reality was far worse than the 49 percent of the vote announced by the Central Election Commission. 
 
An estimated 40,000 people protested in Moscow on December 10 to condemn what they called electoral fraud.

Prior to the demonstrations, the Kremlin's Council for Civil Society and Human Rights said "numerous reports" of mass violations in the elections discredited parliament and "create a real threat to the Russian state." It also called for Vladimir Churov, the head of the election commission, to resign.
 
"Numerous reports of ballot stuffing, rewriting of protocols of ballot results, an unjustified removal of observers and journalists [from polling stations], a ban on photography and video recording, and other violations of electoral rights...led to mass distrust of the poll results," the advisory panel said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, has urged Putin to follow his example and step down.

Speaking in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station, Gorbachev said if Putin heeded protest demands and stepped down now, he would be remembered for the positive things he did during his 12 years in power.

(WATCH: Protesters rally in Moscow.)

Russians Attend Mass Protests i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
December 24, 2011
Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Moscow to protest the results of parliamentary elections conducted earlier this month .People of different political backgrounds have united in protest against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and called for new elections.
 
Written by Farangis Najibullah and Brian Whitmore, with reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service and news agencies. Pavel Butorin and Olga Serebryanaya also contributed to this report
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 24, 2011 11:04
I've been watching the event on this web-site LIVE now. Very frankly, a little bit sluggish the whole thing: talking about Vaclav Havel, Kim Jong Il, Khodorkovsky... If they continue acting in this manner, it's going to take them a while to make the dream of Sen. McCain come true and make Putin go the same way as Col. Gaddafi :-).
In Response

by: Rick from: Milan
December 24, 2011 18:25
McCain .... who is McCain for speak in the name of Russian people ?

Yes , beacuse if somebody know a little , is sufficient a little , Rusia
know very well that russian people isn't with this protestors

protestors that Mr. McCaim must know that have a slogan :
"give us URSS 2 "

I am not sure that this is McCain dream
in addition to Russian gas, of course

by: Sergey from: Chicago, USA
December 24, 2011 11:13
"Several thousand people have gathered in Moscow ...".
And according to RFE/RL Russian Service correspondents, there were around 30,000 at the beginning of the meeting at 2:02 PM Moscow Time with people continuing to arrive. Do you folks coordinate with each other before putting numbers on the website -:) ?

by: Jack from: US
December 24, 2011 16:23
"mass protests" is more of RFE/RL wishful thinking than reality. Russian people are smart enought to realize that if US government propaganda pushes an agenda, it is that agenda Russian people should be opposed to. If Putin is hated by schizos like John McCain, and liars and war criminals like Hillary, than Putin must be not that bad. Still, his time is up, and Kudrin is the right person to be Russian president.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
December 24, 2011 16:44
The next demonstration is scheduled to take part in Feb. 2012. Wow, this movt is almost as intese as that on the Tahrir Square in Egypt or on la Plaza del Sol in Madrid :-)). Well, but Sen. McCain is going to have to wait for a couple of months longer :-). Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody :-)!

Most Popular