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Losing luster? Moscow faces thousands-strong opposition rally

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 10, 2012


Activists say up to 50,000 people will attend a sanctioned meeting on Novy Arbat on Saturday afternoon

Activists say up to 50,000 people will attend a sanctioned meeting on Novy Arbat on Saturday afternoon

The Russian opposition is holding a rally in central Moscow on Saturday to protest the results of the recent presidential elections which saw Vladimir Putin winning with 63.6 per cent of the vote.

Activists say up to 50,000 people will attend a sanctioned meeting on Novy Arbat on Saturday afternoon, but others expect a lower turnout, saying that radical calls by the opposition are pushing people away from the movement.

The opposition claims the presidential poll was rigged with various techniques to ensure Putin’s landslide victory. It has vowed to hold more demonstrations before Putin’s inauguration in May.

We will once again stress the illegitimacy of the elections, the illegitimacy of the president-elect as we understand it,” leftist leader Sergey Udaltsov told RIA Novosti news agency. The Left Front leader underlined that the opposition’s main goal is to have new parliamentary and presidential elections held in the country. In order to achieve this people may need to strike and stage sit-ins, he added.

This follows the massive opposition rally “For Fair Elections” that took place on Monday in the Russian capital after the Sunday vote. Between 14,000 and 20,000 people attended demonstrations at Pushkinskaya Square. Police briefly detained some 250 people, including Udaltsov and prominent whistleblowing blogger Aleksey Navalny.

On the same day thousands of Putin supporters flooded Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square to celebrate their candidate’s victory. Police estimated that about 15,000 people went to the square, which lies adjacent to the Kremlin. Activists waved Russia’s tricolor and flags with “Putin” emblazoned on them.

Despite reports of voting irregularities, the international community has accepted the results of Russia’s presidential elections. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Vladimir Putin a “clear winner.”

On Friday, US President Barack Obama called Putin to congratulate him on his victory and expressed willingness to work with him.

In the wake of the post-election protests, the current prime minister and president-elect, Vladimir Putin, said that the opposition movement will become a real political force when it makes “desirable” proposals.

They will become a real political force when they are able to come up with proposals on the future development of the country and prove that their proposals are desirable,” he said, as cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

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