News / Europe

Anti-Putin Opposition Robust After Holidays

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wishes Russians a happy New Year, Dec. 31, 2011.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wishes Russians a happy New Year, Dec. 31, 2011.
James Brooke

After a 12-day Christmas and New Year’s holiday, political opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and protests of last month's parliamentary election show no sign of easing.

On his first day back at work, Russian opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov is on his fifth press interview, promoting a mass march on the Kremlin.

"Our strategy is to organize big, big actions," he says. "Not often, but big actions, with real political effect."

Ryzhkov is not alone. One month in advance of the march, almost 15,000 people have signed up via Facebook to join the protest. In a nationwide survey taken before the holiday break, one-half of respondents predicted the protests will continue, and one-half predicted that Russia’s political situation will deteriorate.

Only 36 percent of those polled said they will vote for Putin in the March 4 presidential elections. That figure is one-half of the 71 percent of votes he received the last time he faced voters in 2004. An American political scientist at Moscow's New Economic School, Sam Greene, says the Kremlin is realizing the ruling party and other support groups are proving to be hollow.

"They created all these pseudo institutions, like United Russia, and all of a sudden they realize [they] do not have actually a power base," he says. "They do not have links with constituencies that can come out and support them."

During the holiday, Russia’s prime minister was uncharacteristically silent. In his annual New Year’s message, Putin sought to minimize the unprecedented opposition to his rule.

Noting Russia is between parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections in March, he said today’s turbulence is "the cost of democracy."

Russia’s ruler of 12 years left it to his former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, to extend a hand to the opposition. Kudrin called for dialogue with the opposition, new parliamentary elections and the firing of Russia’s chief elections official.

But Ryzhkov, the opposition leader, says Kudrin is flying solo.

"Kudrin initiative is his personal initiative. He has no responsibility, he has no mandate from Putin," he says.

Another call for dialogue came on January 7, Christmas Day in the Orthodox Christian world, when Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill used his Christmas interview on Rossiya 1 TV to warn the Kremlin about the danger of not listening to protesters.

If Russia’s rulers remain deaf to the protests, it is "a very bad sign, a sign of the authorities’ inability to adjust," he warned.

Drawing on history, Patriarch Kirill said the last time Russian rulers did not listen to mass protests, radicals hijacked the protest movement and forced the nation into communism.

If the nation had been spared the communist revolution, he said, Russia would have twice the population of today and be ahead of the United States in many scientific fields.

Earlier, another senior church official, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, warned that if authorities did not respond to the protesters, the nation’s leadership would be "slowly eaten alive."

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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