Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet Leader, Calls For New Election In Russia
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 7, 2011
MOSCOW — Popular anger against Vladimir Putin’s ruling party and alleged election fraud boiled over into a third straight night of protests Wednesday, and police in Russia’s two largest cities arrested scores of demonstrators.
The demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg appeared to attract fewer protesters than in previous days, roughly 300 in each city, but Russians’ willingness to risk jail time and clashes with police indicated significant tensions that could spread.
More than 17,000 people have signed up for a Facebook page calling for a massive demonstration Saturday on Moscow’s Revolution Square. Authorities have sanctioned the rally, but say it has to be limited to 300 participants, so a far larger turnout would almost certainly provoke a harsh police response.
Putin’s United Russia party lost a significant share of its seats in Sunday’s parliamentary election for the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, but will still have a majority. Opponents say even that result was achieved by widespread vote fraud.
United Russia had two-thirds of the seats in the 2007 vote, making the party unassailable and allowing it to push through constitutional changes.
The latest protests came hours after former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev urged Russian authorities to annul the results of Sunday’s vote and hold a new one, according to the Interfax news agency.