News / Europe

    Tens of Thousands Protest Alleged Voter Fraud in Russia

    Protesters gathered in central Moscow Saturday to express their discontent with recent parliamentary elections, which observers say were tainted by ballot-stuffing and fraud on behalf of Mr. President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia.
    Protesters gathered in central Moscow Saturday to express their discontent with recent parliamentary elections, which observers say were tainted by ballot-stuffing and fraud on behalf of Mr. President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia.
    James Brooke

    Protesters came out across the world’s largest country to demand clean elections and to say what, only one week ago, was unsayable.

    “Russia Without Putin” was the favorite chant of thousands of demonstrators who marched within earshot of the Kremlin in the largest pro-democracy demonstration since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.

    From Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast to Kaliningrad on the Baltic, tens of thousands of Russians turned out to protest what they called blatant fraud in last Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

    Standing on Revolution Square in Moscow, Evgenia Chirikova, an opposition leader, talked to VOA before joining a rally police estimated at 20,000 people although organizers claimed there were many more there.

    Speaking in Russian, she said the democracy movement demands new elections and the release of political prisoners. Last week, police responded harshly to street protests, arresting an estimated 1,600 people.

    Photo Gallery: Russians Protest Against Putin and for Democracy in Moscow

    On Saturday, less than 100 people were arrested nationwide. At the end of the Moscow rally, demonstrators faced the long lines of riot police and chanted: “Police, part of the people.” State-run TV broke their weeklong blackout and covered protests, showing thousands of people in Moscow filling a park, spilling over a bridge and covering a facing embankment.

    Alexei Venediktov, the white haired director of Ekho Moscow Radio, fought Soviet authorities in the 1980s.  "Here is the new generation, the Putin generation," he said. "They voted, had their votes stolen, and now they want a fair system."

    Authorities did their best to keep Russia’s new generation away.

    On Friday, Moscow school officials declared a mandatory test for all high school students, scheduling it for the precise time of the Saturday demonstration. Federal health officials warned parents that respiratory diseases can be communicated in large groups of people. The Army warned that they would be checking for draft dodgers as protesters filed through metal detectors.

    A judge kept the most charismatic protest leader, Alexei Navalny, in jail. The imprisoned leaders responded by banging their cell doors and chanting protest slogans at the time of the mass protest.

    And when the protest hour approached, thousands upon thousands of Muscovites emerged from nearby metro stations, trudging through the first light snow of winter.

    Corruption and a rejection of Mr. Putin were the most common reasons cited by people at the protest.

    Roman Sytnikov, the 32-year-old director of a logistics company, also said it was his first time at a demonstration. Sytnikov said he cannot keep silent any more because the corruption is too great.

    Like many protesters, Andrei, a 24-year-old computer worker, said he had found about the protest through the internet. He surveyed the massive crowd, the young men who climbed trees to get a better view, and said:

    “I feel happy, because it is great that people understand what is happening.”

    Roman Protasevich, a 31-year-old financial advisor, said he no longer has a television. He gets all his information off the web. He said Prime Minister Putin showed a Soviet mentality when he charged Thursday that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton activated the protests by sending out a “signal.”

    “This is very funny," Protasevich said. "Actually when I heard your English, I wanted to make a joke that you are the American spies here. But Putin continues to say what he used to say before. But it is very funny. No one believes in this.”

    On March 4, Mr. Putin faces voters as he seeks a new, six-year term as president. One week ago, everyone thought his electoral victory would be automatic.

    After Saturday's protests across Russia, all bets are off.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora