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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid