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

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.