News

    Russians Rally Against Putin, But in Smaller Numbers

    Opposition protesters with their flags shout anti-Putin's slogans as they gathered in the center of Moscow during a rally, Saturday, March 10, 2012.
    Opposition protesters with their flags shout anti-Putin's slogans as they gathered in the center of Moscow during a rally, Saturday, March 10, 2012.
    James Brooke

    Thousands of Russian demonstrators converged on central Moscow Saturday, protesting President-elect Vladimir Putin's third term in office amid allegations of election fraud.

    Russia’s opposition had everything: brilliant sunshine, a permit for a public protest rally, and a central location in the heart of Moscow’s entertainment district.

    What they lacked were protesters.  About 20,000 came to protest on Saturday - only one-fifth as many demonstrators as there were at the last democracy rally before last Sunday's election.  At least 100,000 people turned out for that protest, in 20 degrees below zero (celsius) weather.

    White ribbons and balloons fluttered in the wind, but the spirit of Moscow’s fifth big democracy demonstration seemed deflated by Vladimir Putin’s victory at the polls.

    Officially, Putin won 64 percent of the vote.  Voter watchdog groups give him around 54 percent, but even that was enough to avoid a run-off second-round election.  So in May, the two-term former president and current prime minister begins a new six-year term as Russia's head of state.

    As a police helicopter hovered overhead, Ksenia Sobchak, a television personality turned dissident, told the democratic faithful that they have to move beyond the slogan “Russia Without Putin.”

    She said democracy advocates have to show what they are for: an independent judiciary, a free press, and elections for mayors and governors.

    The stage and sound system were decorated with posters that read: "These are not elections" and "This is not a president."

    But speaker after speaker warned that Russia’s path to democracy will pass through a long slog of building political parties and building a strong civil society.

    Vera Kichanova, a 20-year-old journalism student who won a district council election, addressed the crowd. She urged young people to get involved in politics and in neighborhood groups.

    From a different generation, Garry Kasparov, the 48-year-old chess grandmaster, urged democracy advocates to persevere.

    Kasparov, a seven-year veteran of opposition politics in Russia, told protesters not to get discouraged and not to concede defeat.

    The rally showed how Russia's anti-Putin coalition is mutating.

    At one point nationalists in the crowd marched out the authorized protest in a group.  The Russkiye supporters marched a few hundred meters to the Old Arbat pedestrian mall and lit flares in the midst of throngs of tourists strolling in the sun.  Police detained about a dozen of them.

    Elsewhere this weekend, activists are negotiating the formation of a new democracy party.  Two liberal groups, Yabloko and Parnas, are debating whether to join forces with Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire businessman.

    Prokhorov won nearly 1 million votes in the Moscow region in Sunday's election, outpolling even Putin in the capital’s center.  On Monday, Prokhorov plans to start building his own political party.

    Now, after five mass rallies, there is no agreement on whether or when to hold another.
    Sergei Udaltsov, a leader of the Left Front, vowed to hold a “March of 1 Million” to protest Mr. Putin’s inauguration on May 7.

    The most radical speaker of the day, Udaltsov said the movement’s "weapons" will be marches, meetings and strikes. But his speech was met with only scattered applause.
    After Saturday's rally Udaltsov led an unauthorized march down the New Arbat shopping street toward the Kremlin.  Only several hundred protesters followed him.

    When the group reached a pedestrian underground tunnel at a major avenue, police blocked their way and detained Udaltsov and several others.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: USA
    March 10, 2012 10:01 AM
    Because this opposition, especially its leaders, is highly unpopular in Russia, very few really support them

    by: hamad part 2 of 2
    March 10, 2012 3:38 AM
    Russia . Russians will not afford more ,if Putin does not provide tangible amendments to relieve the pressure on simple people . Steel grip should be loosened before the situation turns to what has been happening in US states .

    by: hamad part 1 of 2
    March 10, 2012 3:38 AM
    We could comment in Anti-Putin demonstrations and Syria issues whereas we are not allowed to comment on the latest bloody attack of Israeli airstrike on Gaza . Which kind of people we have been dealing with ? Europeans and Americans should pay taxes for restricted vulnerable Palestinians , do you know why ? Because nobody can afford the insanity of those people . They have been burning deep inside because Putin does not allow them to flout Jesus and Christianity in

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora