News / Europe

Russia’s Democracy Movement Forms a Human Chain Around Kremlin

Thousands of Moscow residents held hands along the city's 13 kilometer-long Garden Ring Road, Moscow, February 26, 2012.
Thousands of Moscow residents held hands along the city's 13 kilometer-long Garden Ring Road, Moscow, February 26, 2012.
James Brooke

Russians are to vote for president next Sunday in a contest Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to win.

Human chain

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters linked hands in a 16-kilometer human chain around the Kremlin one week before Russians vote for president.   Nicknamed the Great White Ring for the white ribbons worn by protesters, the large turnout was a sign that Russia's middle-class opposition movement is alive and well.

As passing drivers honked horns in support, 32-year-old computer programmer Nikolai Shapelov waved a white ribbon printed "Russia Without Putin."

"We want fair elections," he said. And elections are not fair. You see on TV, you only see Putin, and it is not fair."

Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to win the election next Sunday and return to the presidency, which he held from 2000 to 2008.

It took one hour to drive around Moscow's Garden Ring Road at the peak of the demonstration because of traffic jams caused by drivers cruising slowly and honking horns in solidarity with happily waving protesters. This human chain went entirely around the city core, stretching over bridges crossing the Moscow River, and breaking only at intersections to allow traffic to flow.

Alexander, a 37-year-old caterer, was standing by a curb, waving to passing cars

He said he does not like the corruption of the Putin government and is happy to see a lot of other Russians share his view.

Longing for freedom

On the sidewalk, Vadim Roshin, a 50-year-old researcher, carried his 18-month-old daughter Katia on his shoulders. He worried that Putin is polarizing Russians:

"I prefer to live in [a] country where many different points of view live together," he said. "And I think that many people are ready for this."

Nearby, 55-year-old architect and restorer Alexei Denisov said he and his wife Tatyana came out because they oppose governmental corruption and the destruction of historic buildings in Moscow.

He said people are united because things cannot continue as they are.  And if they do, Russia has very poor prospects.

All polls indicate Putin has enough support across the nation to give him a first-round victory of more than 50 percent. But it is unclear if he will win majorities in Russia's biggest cities.

Last peaceful protest

Popular writer and protest organizer Boris Akunin, told Moscow's Rain TV the human chain could be the opposition's last peaceful protest.

On the White Ring, 50-year-old TV producer Yury Bershidsky agreed, saying he feared a government crackdown after a Putin win next Sunday.

"But when Moscow and St. Petersburg and the big cities are against them, we do not really know what can happen," said Bershidsky. "I am afraid of some violent decisions of them."

Photo Gallery

The White Ring lasted about 90 minutes, then broke up under lightly falling snow. Some protesters then converged on Revolution Square, where riot police corralled them between a Karl Marx statue and the red brick walls of the Kremlin.

They chanted angrily: "Putin thief, Putin thief."

Corruption

Ilya Ponomarev, a parliamentary deputy from the Fair Russia party, said next Sunday citizen election observers will try to prevent a repeat of the massive fraud he said took place in parliamentary elections last December.

He told VOA that if large scale fraud takes place in the presidential elections, the opposition movement will consider Putin a usurper and will do more to restore constitutional power in Russia.

Many people said this Sunday was festive, but predicted next Sunday will be tense.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

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

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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