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 Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs