Muscovites protest at Putin election victory

'They have stolen our votes', the biggest opposition rally in recent history is told

Moscow

More than 8,000 people packed into central Moscow yesterday to protest against the victory of the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party in Sunday's parliamentary elections, in one of the country's biggest anti-government rallies in recent history. They chanted, shouted and blew whistles in protest at Mr Putin, who will stand for a return to the Kremlin as President in March elections.

United Russia gained around 49.5 per cent of the vote, the Central Election Commission said yesterday, with almost all the ballots now counted. Although the party will still have more than half of the seats in Russia's parliament, the percentage – down from the 64 per cent it gained in 2007 – has been seen as a sign that Russians are growing tired of the Putin era. Mr Putin announced in September that he intends to return as President after a four-year stint as Prime Minister, and could now rule Russia until 2024.

International monitors said yesterday that of 150 polling stations monitored, 34 were "very bad", and reports came in from across the country of multiple voting, stuffed ballots, and public-sector workers coming under pressure to vote for United Russia.

Yesterday evening, assorted figures from Russia's democratic and radical opposition, most of whose parties had not been registered for the elections, addressed crowds who came to protest.

Despite persistent rain and chilly temperatures, many more people than anybody expected showed up.

One of the speakers called him "Mister Botox", alluding to rumours, denied by Mr Putin's spokesman, that the Prime Minister has had plastic surgery to make him look younger. Others called Mr Putin and his cronies "criminals" for allegedly stealing the votes of Russians, and repeated the famous phrase "a criminal should be in jail", from a Soviet-era film.

"Putin and his party of crooks and swindlers have suffered a terrible defeat," said a liberal politician Boris Nemtsov at the protest. "They might claim over their zombie-box television that United Russia got 48 per cent, but who really believes that? Nobody! They have stolen our votes!"

The crowds made a cacophonous din blowing into whistles that had been distributed, a nod to the unprecedented occurrence last month when Mr Putin was whistled when he addressed crowds.

As the meeting drew to a close, some in the crowd attempted to start a march towards the Lubyanka, headquarters of the FSB, formerly the KGB. Riot police cordons blocked them off, and some of the participants and several journalists were bundled into police buses and detained.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine