News / Europe

Putin Wraps Campaign in Patriotism at Mass Rally

Presidential candidate and Russia's current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a rally in Moscow to support his candidature in the upcoming presidential election, February 23, 2012
Presidential candidate and Russia's current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a rally in Moscow to support his candidature in the upcoming presidential election, February 23, 2012
James Brooke

Ten days before Russia’s presidential elections, Vladimir Putin addressed a mass meeting, wrapping his candidacy in patriotic colors.

Standing in light snow on the Luzhniki playing field, in Moscow’s largest sports stadium, Russia’s prime minister faced a full house - 80,000 people.

He shouted “Will we win?” And the crowd roared back 'Da' which means "Yes".

In the Soviet era, February 23 was Red Army Day.  Now it is called Defenders of the Fatherland Day, and Putin said Russian patriots are on his side.

In the past two months, Putin and his followers have claimed Washington is behind large opposition rallies against his government.

At the sports stadium, he picked up the theme, without naming names.

Watch video of Putin rally

Citing Russia’s victory against Napoleon 200 years ago, he warned: “The fight for our country continues.”

Visibly angry, Putin shouted: “We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal affairs.”

The crowd largely middle aged and elderly, was more subdued, saying they will vote for Putin because they value his experience running Russia.

Yuri Mikhailovich, a 71-year-old electric engineer, said Putin is the only candidate of the five in the race with on the job training. He cited the value of Putin’s two terms as president and one term as prime minister.

Habib, a 56-year-old driver, bitterly recalled the communist era. He said there was no bread or salt in the stores and that workers had to wait 10 years to buy a refrigerator. He said that the communists kept workers like inmates in a concentration camp. Habib and many others came by buses specially chartered for the Putin rally.

Many declined to talk to reporters. One woman holding a red “For Putin” balloon said she only kept it to give to her granddaughter. A man storing dozens of pro-Putin signs in the back of a van declined to say why he was at the rally.

People take part in a rally to support presidential candidate and Russia's current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, February 23, 2012
People take part in a rally to support presidential candidate and Russia's current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, February 23, 2012

Mass produced in a uniform style, the signs read: “For clean elections” and “We won’t let them ruin our country” and “Who, if not Putin?”

Opposition supporters also came to hand out leaflets.

Nikita Vlasihin, the 25-year-old owner of an Internet store, handed out anti-corruption pamphlets. Each contained a white ribbon, the symbol of the protest movement that has swept Russia since the controversial December 4 parliamentary elections.

He says many people accept his pamphlets and tell him they only came to the Putin rally because their work supervisors ordered them to come. “This meeting is total fake, 80 percent fake, 20 percent real people who are pro-Putin,” said Vlasihin.

But inside Luzhniki stadium, Putin appeared happy with the massive turnout.

Looking around, Putin said he could not shake every hand. But he concluded by thanking everyone - in advance - for their votes.

Russian presidential candidates:

Candidate Background
.
Vladimir Putin
Putin
President from 2000-2008. Currently serves as prime minister, and is running on the United Russia party ticket. His popularity is waning among the Russian middle class, but is expected to win the March election.
Mikhail ProkhorovProkhorov Russia's third richest man. He is running as an independent, but was formerly part of the pro-business Right Cause party. He is highly critical of Russian corruption and overinflated bureaucracy, and is poising himself as the middle class's candidate.
Gennady ZyuganovZyuganov- The Communist Party leader, running for the fourth time since 1996. He is considered most likely to have a runoff with Putin. He aims to strengthen Russia by increasing social welfare through the nationalization of state resources.
Sergei Mironovmironov A Just Russia party candidate. Aims to build an effective Social Democratic political system. He was criticized for not taking a stronger stance against Putin. Mironov believes Russia and American diplomatic efforts are "doomed to agreements, collaboration and partnership."
Vladimir Zhirinovskyzhirinovsky The founder of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, running for president for the fifth time since 1991. He is the most outspoken candidate promoting a nationalistic, anti-American agenda.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
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.

VOA Blogs