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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid