WORLD

Russia: Biggest nationwide protests since the fall of USSR

The protesters are demanding a re-run of the election that returned the ruling United Russia party to power.

MOSCOW – Masses of people in a dozen Russian cities turned out for peaceful rallies on Saturday to challenge the official results of Russia’s latest legislative elections last Sunday, The Voice of Russia informs.

The biggest rally took place in Moscow, between in Bolotnaya Square located across the river from the Kremlin. According to Moscow police officials, it attracted about 25,000 people. The organizers, however, estimate the number to be more like 60,000.

Saturday’s demonstrations in Moscow were the biggest since the fall of the Soviet Union, Euronews informs.

The speakers included newly elected opposition lawmakers from the Communists and from the Just Russia party. Some in the crowd shouted out their support, while others urged these lawmakers to resign. Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov even attracted catcalls, boos and whistles when he appeared on the podium.

The rally called for a recount or fresh elections and also for the resignation of the head of the National Electoral Commission Vladimir Churov. Experts believe the former request can be partially granted, and recounts at polling stations where irregularities have been found are quite possible.

Russian political analyst Dr Alexei Makarkin told The Voice of Russia that there are signs of Russia’s civil society coming of age: “The prophecies of doom and gloom have flopped. The opposition did not rush to storm the Kremlin. Nor did the police make charges, with batons or any other weapons. The opposition and the authorities appear to have learnt lessons on how to conduct a peaceful dialogue.”

According to the Euronews correspondent, the Moscow demonstration dispelled people’s worst fears and became the Russian opposition’s most successful action in years.

There were about 50 arrests on Saturday. All took place in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, where opposition supporters rallied without having obtained an official permission to hold a rally.

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