Saturday, 10 December 2011

Demonstrations in Russia - Against Putin's Russia?

Tens of thousands assembled in Moscow today for a protest against misuse of power and election fraud.  It seems that the neat little plan for Putin to continue holding power is falling apart.  The chickens have come home to roost.

Dimitry Medvedev, who befriended Putin during his time as a campaign manager and advisor for St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak.  Medvedev fit neatly into Putin's plan, when Medvedev was elected President in 2008.  There seems to have been a Putin plan all along to take power in Russia again in 2012.

It seems however the chickens have come home to roost.  After the December 4th election, Putin's United Russia Party received just under 49%, although it is enough for Putin to push his agenda.  There have been widespread allegations of ballot box stuffing and election fraud.  The OECD alleged that that the election was  fraudulent and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Russia to hold fair and free elections.

Russians shed their fear of the state power and took to the streets, initially with protests on December 5th and 6th, where Russians took to the streets shouting "Russia without Putin". The protests resulted in hundreds of arrests.

Not discouraged, protests were organize for December 10th and tens of thousands of Russians took to the street, with up to 50,000 riot police deployed ahead of the protest.  Demonstrators are demanding a rerun of the election and and end to the Putin era. 

There were protests throughout Russia, according to BBC

  • Protesters in the Pacific port of Vladivostok waved banners with slogans like "The rats should go!" and "Swindlers and thieves - give us our elections back!"
  • In Kurgan, on the border with Kazakhstan, police dispersed an unapproved rally after between 200 and 400 protesters gathered on a square in freezing weather
  • Some 3,000 people braved temperatures of minus 20C for a two-hour rally in Novosibirsk
  • At least 3,000 people rallied in Yekaterinburg to chant "Freedom to political prisoners" and "Russia without Putin", with one protester waving a large teddy bear - the symbol of the United Russia party is a bear - impaled on a stick.
Whether or not Putin will listen remains to be seen.   Is this Russia's Arab Spring?


The protests appear to have had some success.   After massive protests yesterday, which saw very little interference by police and were broadcast on Russian media, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev ordered an investigation into allegations of polling violations during last Sunday's parliamentary election.  

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