Russian Police, Protesters Clash at Anti-Putin Rally

A Russian demonstrator holds sign with caricature of Vladimir Putin and the message: "We will throw the rat off the ship!" during a protest in Moscow, May 6, 2012.
A Russian demonstrator holds sign with caricature of Vladimir Putin and the message: "We will throw the rat off the ship!" during a protest in Moscow, May 6, 2012.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Russian capital Sunday on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third term as president. At least 250 people were arrested when demonstrators clashed with police.

Demonstrators shouted “Russia without Putin!” as they marched through central Moscow to protest Vladimir Putin’s impending third presidential term, which he won in an election last March that critics say was rigged.

Police say the opposition rally, which was billed by its organizers as the “March of Millions” drew 8,000 people, while some in the opposition claim 100,000 people came out. Estimates of at least 20,000 marchers seem closer to reality.

Protests took place after the March 4 presidential vote, and large-scale demonstrations were held in Moscow in December following parliamentary elections that the opposition says were also fraudulent.

Sunday’s protest turned violent when riot police stopped demonstrators crossing a bridge over the Moscow River from entering a square used by the opposition for one of last winter’s protests. Some of the marchers tried to push their way through and police used their batons and made arrests. Among those detained were Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and liberal leader Boris Nemtsov. Several people on both sides were injured.

Russia’s opposition movement is composed of disparate groups: demonstrators holding Soviet flags marched Sunday alongside those carrying flags of the Libertarian Party of Russia, while Russian Orthodox monarchists mingled uncomfortably with protesters carrying banners bearing the image of Cuban communist revolutionary Che Guevara.

What unites them is their disgust over the prospect of Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin for another 12 years. Ira, a young Muscovite who attended Sunday’s protest, said above the noise of a police helicopter hovering overhead that everyone is “tired of the regime.”

She says those who turned out Sunday, young and old alike, are people “who know what the truth is and believe in it,” and who have hopes for a positive future for Russia.

Anton is an opposition activist who traveled more than 1,600 kilometers from the Russian city of Yekaterinburg to attend the Moscow rally.

He says he would have preferred that Mr. Putin’s inauguration not take place at all, or that the government had been forced to make “serious concessions” in exchange for his return to the Kremlin, such as annulling last December’s parliamentary elections and holding a fresh vote.

However, analysts say Mr. Putin is unlikely to make such concessions after he formerly takes over the presidency from Dmitry Medvedev on Monday.

Vladimir Pribylovsky of the Panorama think tank says the government is likely to continue a strategy of downplaying and discrediting the opposition. He says state-controlled television will be used to put out the message that the opposition lacks “a positive program,” that it is “feeble” and divided, and that its leaders “are people with questionable pasts.”

Meanwhile, the government has been holding mass rallies of its own. On May 1, at least 100,000 people, including, Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev, joined a march organized by pro-government trade unions and the ruling United Russia party. On Sunday, tens of thousands attended a pro-Kremlin rally and concert at Moscow’s Victory Park.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
May 06, 2012 9:20 PM
those who came out on streets to protest agaist Putin do not represent the will of more than 140 million russians. They are offering to send their country at a cheap price.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs