News / Europe

Russians Turn Out to Protest Putin

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures during major protest rally in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow, May 6, 2013.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures during major protest rally in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow, May 6, 2013.
James Brooke
One year after Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as president of Russia for the third time, opposition leader Alexei Navalny led protesters in chanting “Putin Thief.”
 
While the white ribbons, iPads and anti-Putin placards were reminders of the big protests of last year, Monday’s long-awaited rally was marred by tragedy.
 
Hours before protesters arrived, a tower of loudspeakers fell over, killing a volunteer. Navalny was forced to speak through a bullhorn, his words reaching only hundreds of the thousands who turned out on a chill, overcast evening.
 
“I am fighting for a new future for my family," Navalny told the crowd from a flatbed truck. “I have no other country, no other people.”
 
In a larger sense, the Russian opposition leader’s words reach a far smaller audience than one year ago. Blacklisted by mainstream media, his political party denied registration, Navalny is now on trial for what he calls political charges.
 
With Russia’s democratic opposition on the defensive, Monday’s rally was devoted to demanding freedom for 26 protesters indicted for taking part in the rally one year ago. Their black and white portraits dominated today’s gathering. Placards called for release of Russia’s “political prisoners.”
 
Alexander Brakhov held a sign asking, “Should a thief sit in the Kremlin, or in jail?”
 
"The important thing is there is a big number of people, this will be a big help for the political prisoners," Brakhov said.
 
Crowd estimates hovered around 15,000, a fraction of the 50,000 estimated to have turned out one year ago, on the eve of Putin’s return to the presidency.
 
Critics say that Putin’s first year back as president has been marked by new laws restricting freedom of assembly and independent non-governmental organizations. Monday's protesters were greeted by rows upon rows  of “cosmonauts” — bubble-helmeted riot police — and “robocops” — black-uniformed police in special body armor.
 
Hours before the rally, Lilia Shevtsova, senior associate of the Carnegie Moscow Center, called the protest a test: "For us, for our ability to take to the street to defend our people, for our ideals, and first of all for our people in prison."
 
Roman Dobrokhotov, a 29-year-old office worker who arrived in a business suit, was joined by friends to promote their new political party — the December 5 Party. Looking around, he said he saw a cross-section of Moscow.
 
"There are people of all categories here, starting with businessmen and top managers, and ending with pensioners," he said.
 
Indeed, most of the protesters seemed to be political independents. Unlike past rallies, red flags of the communists and black flags of the nationalists were rare.
 
The favorite chant of the evening was “Freedom, Freedom!”

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 07, 2013 4:21 AM
He's a criminal and killed lots of innocent people in Chechnya. He doesn't make any good decisions whatsoever for Russia. He does not represent the true hearts, minds, and souls of the Russian people.

by: Carlos .. from: California
May 06, 2013 10:41 PM
To bad you will never hear a peep Barack Obama about the oppression in Russia .. he is the partner of the Kremlin dictators and would never want to embarrass them .. despicable cowardice that does not support the struggle for freedom .. . the heroes stand alone while he is president of the home of the free and the brave ..

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
May 06, 2013 9:34 PM
The remarkable thing in the Moscow’s rally, although not as spectacular as a year before, when people’s indignation about the stolen elections had been the highest, is that the rally has proven – it’s is 100% genuinely Russian phenomenon. Long before the rally the FSB regime has made all in its illegitimate power to ban any foreign aid, funding and monitoring, to break free Putin’s opposition from any international involvement. The rally showed that heavy-handed tactics doesn’t work. Still there are thousands upon thousands who openly oppose the regime unable to provide progress in Russia in any walk of life, with country sliding into economic recession. The regime has been at its wit’s end at how to plant seeds of fear, how to invent illegitimate/anticonstitutional ways to suppress willingness of people to have their say. The establishment lost its moral ground. It looks that participants take their inspiration in Aesop’s fable of “The Bundle of Sticks” with sons always fighting amongst themselves. It made hard to get any work done. Their dad/mum showed the error of their ways by asking each one in turn to snap a whole bundle of sticks. But when she untied the bundle and gave them just one stick each to snap, it was easy. The sons realized the value of working together. The fable inspires to unite. The regime might have applied host of draconian laws, launch politically motivated courts' of law processes to separate citizens, but the sparkles of the fire of discontent will kindle the flame. In unity is our victory! Muscovites gave great examples to get together at the rally.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More