News / Europe

Protests over Russian Elections Spread to More Cities

Police arrive at Triumphal Square during protests against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, December 6, 2011.
Police arrive at Triumphal Square during protests against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, December 6, 2011.
James Brooke

Russia’s ruling party won only half of the votes in elections on Sunday. But opponents say even that poor showing was boosted by widespread fraud. Now they are protesting.

Protests against Sunday’s Duma elections are spreading across Russia.

On Tuesday, the interior ministry flooded downtown Moscow with dozens of prison trucks and as many as 50,000 police and troops.

Despite this show of force, protesters turned out and black helmeted riot police wrestled into detention a total of 300 people, largely off the sidewalks of Tverskaya, the capital’s most expensive shopping avenue.

Police arrested 200 more in St. Petersburg and dozens more in other cities. Dozhd, a private internet TV channel reported that protests took place in 50 Russian cities.

In Moscow, police protected pro-government demonstrators who banged drums and chanted “Rossiya, Rossiya.”

Many protesters seemed to be high school students, brought in groups, and clearly unfamiliar with downtown Moscow’s streets and subways.

Denis, a member of an opposition party Yabloko, took refuge in Mayakovskaya subway station.

He said he thought the pro-government protesters were paid.

With the opposition planning a major Moscow protest for Saturday, a judge imposed 15-day sentences on two organizers arrested for disobeying police on Monday. They are: Ilya Yashin, an activist, and Alexey Navalny, a blogger with millions of online readers.

Taking another tack, Russia’s ruling duo sought to cool widespread anger over the vote by announcing small concessions on national TV

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised to shake up government - if he is elected President in March.

He promised to change governors and the cabinet. The cabinet has continued virtually unchanged during the four years of the Medvedev government, now widely seen as a caretaker time.

For his part, President Medvedev ordered the government agency that conducted Sunday’s election to investigate reports of vote rigging. Russia’s president also reacted harshly to Western criticism of Sunday’s election.

As for foreigners, he said, Russia’s political system “is none of their business.”

But U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to neighboring Lithuania, stepped up her criticism Tuesday, saying Russia’s elections were “neither free nor fair.”

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman immediately responded.

She called Ms. Clinton’s comments “unacceptable.”

On Monday, after Ms. Clinton called for investigation into fraud charges, Konstantin Kosachev, a senior ruling party member, denounced the call as “one of the darkest pages in Russian-US relations.”

On Tuesday, US Senator John McCain, a Republican, was less diplomatic.

After hearing of Monday’s nights arrests near the Kremlin, Senator McCain tweeted this message to Prime Minister Putin: “Dear Vlad, the Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you.”

In Moscow, Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the Duma, reacted with outrage. He compared the American senator to the Mad Hatter in the book Alice in Wonderland.

Russia’s political unrest may now be taking an economic toll.

On Tuesday, a finance ministry official raised the official estimate of capital flight from Russia. Now, he said it will surpass $85 billion this year.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid