Smaller turnout at second round of Moscow protests 

 

About 1,000 demonstrators demanding a rerun of parliamentary elections gathered in central Moscow today for a second weekend of protests against Russia's fraud-tainted vote, a comparatively small crowd that underlined the challenge to the opposition of keeping up public pressure on authorities.

The turnout was far below the nationwide protests last Saturday in at least 60 cities, including a dramatic gathering of tens of thousands in Moscow, the largest show of public anger in post-Soviet Russia. Demonstrations took place in at least two other cities today. 

The protests follow the December 4 national parliamentary elections, in which the ruling United Russia party lost a significant share of its seats in the State Duma, though it retained a narrow majority. Opposition forces claim even that was unearned, supported by reports from local and international observers of widespread vote-count irregularities and outright fraud. 

The combination of fraud and United Russia's declining fortunes galvanized opposition groups that have been repressed under Putin's 12 years of rule. After several nights of unauthorized protests that police broke up harshly, Moscow authorities showed unprecedented largesse in granting permission to hold several large protests. 

The Russian leadership appeared shaken by the opposition's determination, but its decision to grant permission for the protests could also be a strategy aimed at dissipating the anger with the hope that unhindered protests will eventually fade away. 

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week effectively rejected calls to rerun the election, declaring that its result reflected the people's will. The new Duma is to have its opening session on Wednesday. 

The opposition, in turn, aims to keep up the pressure with a series of protests, and is placing much hope on a Moscow rally Dec. 24 that organizers believe will attract at least 50,000 people. 

Saturday's protest at Bolotnaya Square, on an island in the Moscow River a few hundred meters from the Kremlin, was organized by Yabloko, a liberal party that has been a longtime bit-player in Russian politics. Unlike many liberal groups, it was allowed to register for the parliament elections, but won no seats. 

Speakers including party leader Sergei Mitrokhin called for the December 4 election results to be annulled. Mitrokhin also took Putin to task for his televised comments this week in which he claimed protest leaders were acting at the West's behest and sarcastically said he thought the white ribbons many protesters wear as an emblem were condoms. 

"Our Prime Minister held a live show on our TV where during five hours he was calling us condoms financed by the State Department, crooks that are trying to steal the country, and I think that this is the reaction that shows he was scared," Mitrokhin told the well-behaved crowd. 

Russian news media also reported about 500 people held a protest in the Siberian city of Irkutsk and that about 100 tried for an unauthorized rally in Samara, where four demonstrators were arrested. 

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks