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Russians Resume Protests Of Reforms

12 February 2005 -- An estimated 250,000 people marched in cities across Russia today to protest against recent social reforms and to call for the government's ouster.

Several thousand people assembled in Moscow for a protest organized by the Communist Party and other opposition groups.

One demonstrator explained why she was protesting: "Of course, we came here to express our dissatisfaction, we are not satisfied with the way we live today, with the policy of our rulers."

Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, drew over 7,000 protesters. The city of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, registered a similar turnout.

The Kremlin-backed reforms replace with cash payments such benefits for pensioners, veterans, and the disabled as free public transport and subsidized medicines.

They have been met with waves of protests since they came into effect at the start of this year.

(RFE/RL's Russian Service/AP/AFP)