News / Europe

Russians Ignore Arctic Cold and Keep Protest Flame Burning

James Brooke

It appears Kremlin strategists had hoped Russia’s mid-winter holiday would break the momentum of the country's political protest movement. But the coldest temperatures of the season did not deter thousands of protesters from taking to the streets over the weekend.

Arctic cold held Moscow in its icy grip, but tens of thousands of people left their warm apartments to demonstrate against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Braving the same sub-zero temperatures that have killed hundreds across Eastern Europe, protesters like Georgi, a lawyer, took to the Moscow streets.

He says that he and his friends realized they had to stop complaining in the privacy of their kitchens and show in public that they want political freedom and the rule of law for Russia.

Despite the brutal cold, there was humor. Anton Glotov came dressed as a tank, to show that the opposition also has tanks. He says the government may not change, but Russians are feeling freer to meet, express their opinion and even start smiling, “like in America.”

A Russian visitor from South America, Danila Terentevich, said she is not shocked by Russia’s cold, but by its corruption. He says he tells friends in Argentina, “You want to see real corruption, go to Russia."

But beyond the ice carnival mood, protesters like computer programmer Taras Mazhar, attending with his father, sisters and girlfriend, warns Mr. Putin to listen and liberalize or face radicalization. “We come here to give a chance to our government not to lead us to revolution," he said.

Mazhar and others are driven by the thought the March 4 presidential vote could put Mr. Putin on the path to ruling Russia for more than another decade.

Twenty-four-year-old Evdokiya Labazova was handing out stickers for a website to prepare observers for presidential elections, one month away. She says clear fraud in the December parliamentary elections pushed her to be a poll watcher for the presidential election.

Levada Polling Center political researcher Natalia Zorkaya says the large turn out of well-educated people proves there is a growing awareness of the need for political reform.  She says Russians in their 20s are in a fighting mood.

She says that young successful Muscovites have switched from wanting to emigrate, to wanting to fight corruption and bring democracy to Russia.

From a city park in the dead of winter, the message to Mr. Putin is, liberalize now, or face a hot spring.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs