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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs