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

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid