ULAN-UDE, Russia -- Hundreds of protesters jammed a central square in the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude, amid continuing outrage over recent elections for the city’s mayor and related police violence.
The September 15 protest was the latest in a series of public demonstrations that erupted after the September 8 election in Buryatia, a mountainous region that borders Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
Protesters say the election was rigged to secure the victory of acting Mayor Igor Shutenkov, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker. Many held banners reading “Russia Will Be Free,” and “We Won’t Recognize Election Results.”
Vyacheslav Markhayev, a Communist lawmaker who came in second in the vote, called the election "the most devious and dirty among all of those I have taken part in."
In addition to unhappiness about the election result, protesters were also outraged over the police treatment of a local blogger, linked to a Yakut shaman walking from the Far Eastern region of Sakha-Yakutiato to Moscow "to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin."
Two days after the vote, police violently clashed with demonstrators on Ulan-Ude’s central square, prompting further outrage. Several people were hospitalized after the clash.
"We were merely protesting. There were no banners. There was no reason to pull people out of the car, to beat them," one lawmaker, Bair Tsyrenov, told the crowd.
Protesters also shouted “Shame!” and “Resign” at the Buryatia regional governor who tried to calm the crowd.