News / Europe

    Gorbachev Calls for New Elections, Russian Security Forces Patrol Moscow Streets

    Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, November 30, 2011.
    Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, November 30, 2011.
    James Brooke

    Russia’s protest movement continues to move from the Internet to the streets and protesters have won an unexpected ally, the last leader of the Soviet Union.  

    Mikhail Gorbachev says Russia’s elections on Sunday were unfair, and he is calling on authorities to hold new ones.

    Mr. Gorbachev told Russia’s Interfax news agency, “The leadership of the country should admit that numerous falsifications and ballot-box stuffing took place, and that the announced results do not reflect the will of the people.”

    The 80-year-old former leader added that “ignoring public opinion discredits authorities and destabilizes the situation.”

    In 1990, Mr. Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize for loosening Soviet control over Eastern Europe.  But the next year, he presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union, an act that is resented by many Russians today.

    But Mr. Gorbachev’s low level of popularity in Russia was not enough for authorities to loosen a total TV blackout on criticism of Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

    On Wednesday, police helicopters patrolled the skies of Moscow, police trucks lined city squares, 50,000 police patrolled streets, and security officials said 550 people had been arrested in Moscow protests the night before.  But state-run TV channels did not carry a word of this.

    Instead, they found time to air features on reindeer tagging in the Arctic, radioactive baby food in Japan, and President Dmitry Medvedev meeting with Cossack leaders.

    The only political coverage was a silent video of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin officially registering his candidacy to run for president in the March 4 election.

    Analyst Vladimir Tikhomirov, of the Moscow investment house Otkritie, says Mr. Putin now faces an unexpectedly hard election fight. “The activity of the protesters shows that Putin would have a very hard time building up his constituency in the presidential elections," he said.

    Knowledge that Mr. Putin could possibly run Russia through 2024 is fueling the protests.

    Organizers have scheduled four major protests in Moscow for the next 10 days.

    The first one is to be Saturday on Revolution Square, 50 meters from the Kremlin. The permit is for 300 people. But 23,000 people have pledged to go through Facebook and a Russian social networking site. Another 15,000 have said they might go.

    Bracing for more protests in Moscow, police towed away cars and placed metal fences around Triumfalnaya Square, the site of one of four attempted protests Tuesday.

    With one social networking site promisting nightly protests, police arrested 50 protesters late Wednesday in Moscow and 100 in St. Petersburg.

    It also appears to be the provinces' turn, as 1,000 people protested the elections in Kaliningrad, Russia’s western-most territory, a region sandwiched between two European Union countries, Poland and Lithuania.

    Nearby, at a European meeting in Lithuania, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected election criticism by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Lavrov said she attacked the Russian elections “only to impress her voters in the Democratic Party.”

    Even that, criticism of election criticism, was deemed too controversial to make the news on Russia’s state-run TV.

    Photo Gallery: Russian Protests

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora