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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora