News / Europe

Opposition Rally Draws Tens of Thousands in Moscow

Watch a Related Video by Jeff Seldin

x
Tens of Thousands Protest in Moscowi
|| 0:00:00
X
Jeff Seldin
June 12, 2012 6:20 PM
Tens of thousands of people descended on Moscow in an effort to show Russian President Vladimir Putin his critics will not be silenced. Tuesday's rally is the first to be called by the opposition since Putin took office on May 7 and began tightening a government crackdown on dissent. VOA's Jeff Seldin has the latest on the simmering tensions in Russia.

Watch a Related Video by Jeff Seldin

James Brooke
MOSCOW - Braving thunderstorms over Moscow and police raids on opposition offices, tens of thousands of people turned out Tuesday, filling the capital's leafy boulevard ring road with a long river of protesters.

Earlier, President Putin tried to cut the turnout by dramatically raising penalties for unauthorized protests and by ordering police raids on top opposition leaders.  On protest day, many top leaders missed the rally because they were undergoing police interrogations.

But the crackdown may have backfired, as the protesters appeared to have a new energy.

Elizabeth, a 15-year-old student, walked with her mother and carried a sign reading, "Back to Future 2012 = 1937"

The year 1937 was the year when Stalinist repression sharpened.  Elizabeth complained that she was among the more than 400 protesters detained at the protest on the day before Mr. Putin's May 7 inauguration.

  • Demonstrators hold the flags of various groups during a massive protest against Putin's rule in Moscow, Tuesday, June 12, 2012.
  • Protesters carry a banner reading, "Russia Go Forward without Putin" in Moscow.
  • Activists hold a huge Russian Empire flag during protests in Moscow.
  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks to the media at the headquarters of the Russian Investigation committee in Moscow, June 12, 2012.
  • A view of one of the rooms in Alexei Navalny's flat, after a police search. Russian investigators searched the apartments of several protest leaders Monday and called them in for questioning Tuesday.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awards ceremony for achievements in culture and science in Moscow's Kremlin June 12, 2012.
  • Participants at the anti-government protest in Moscow.
  • Participants march with flags and placards in Moscow.
  • The badge on the right reads, "I'm against". The badge on the left is the symbol for the protest movement.

Nearby, Kirill, a 22-year-old student, said he came because he believes Russia's ruling elite is getting rich off the nation's oil and natural resources. He said he hope his generation will see a Russia where the rule of law is respected.

Many marchers were young people.  Some analysts say the new crackdown echoes themes in Russian literature in which an older generation seeks to prolong its control over the younger generation.

Analyst Masha Lipman, of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the first month of the new Putin presidency has shown a clear trend toward a political crackdown. "The  searches, the raids, the new law, the ordinary protesters being arrested, which is especially alarming because people identify every easily with a person who is just a Muscovite, just a young person, just a businessman.  The problem is that when you step on this path, it is very difficult to stop," she said.

Nearby, Alexander Shvedov, a 53-year-old engineer, held a Biblical banner and said his Christian opposition group is deliberately leaderless. He said Monday's raids on opposition leaders justified his group's decision to exist largely on the Internet.

Torrential rainstorms opened and closed the four-hour march and rally.  In between, the outdoor event took on the air of a political fair.

Dressed in black, a squad of anarchists waved red and black flags. They chanted, "It is forbidden to forbid."

Communists waved red banners and broke into old Soviet songs.  Russian nationalists waved their gold, white and black czarist banners. They chanted, "Moscow is a Russian city."

Marina, a writer, walked rapidly, to stay well ahead of the nationalists.  She complained they were "strange".  She fears the nationalists, communists, and anarchists are better organized than liberals who advocate, what she calls, "normal human values."

Tuesday is a national holiday, Russia Day.

President Putin took advantage of the day to appeal for national unity. Speaking on state-run television, he said, "Only together will we go forward."

But as he spoke, political repression continued.  Police searched the apartment of one opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, and the office of another, Alexei Navalny.

A third leader, Ilya Yashin, emerged from a police interrogation to tell reporters he believes all three leaders will face charges stemming from the capital's last big protest, on May 6, the day before Mr. Putin's inauguration for a third term.

At the Tuesday rally, a police helicopter flew constantly overhead, filming the protesters.

Here the rotors almost drown out chants of, "Russia without Putin."

Hidden on side streets stood lines of muscular riot police, known here as 'cosmonauts' for their bubble helmets.

Protesters were friendly with city police. Walking past one Moscow police detachment, protesters broke into a chant. They chanted, "Police with the people.  Do not serve the fools."

At the end of the day, no arrests were reported at protests here or in St. Petersburg, or in Novosibirsk - Russia's three most-populous cities.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 13, 2012 4:08 AM
No countries going to the next Russian Olympics would be icing on the cake too.


by: Anonymous
June 13, 2012 4:07 AM
Excellent News! I couldn't be happier than to see this. What Mr Putin has now is his own Arab spring, something he entirely deserves in his own country. Sticking his nose in Syria is wrong, and his human rights record is stinkingly terrible. As well corruption won't be tolerated this day and age Mr Putin. He entirely deserves this after what he is trying to pull in Syria. I certainly hope the Russian people don't back down from him, and not only fight for their rights to democracy but also because he is a terrible dictator. He has allowed the same atrocities to take place that he implemented in Chechnya (Kill everyone was his philosophy). We (The west) like the Russian people, I have several friends, none of which like Putin at all over here. They feel bad for their people back home in Russia that they have to live in such a non democractic place. Mr Putin not only are you getting tallied for your stupid mistakes with the west, your own people are tallying you too. Smarten up or you will be overthrown next.


by: Gennady from: Russian Federation, Volga
June 12, 2012 7:34 PM
I don’t believe the illegitimate “President’s” appeal. There can’t be unity with the man who stole election, whose place is behind the bars, with lawlessness, gagged press, denying basic human rights. Putin’s clumsy efforts to intimidate people with the anticonstitutional law hurried by illegitimate Duma & “President” have just stirred up radicalization. Communists started dominate in protests with the demand of nationalization of natural resources beside “Putin to step down”.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid