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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More