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
TEXT SIZE - +

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.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid