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Political Demonstrations in Moscow: 200,000 Citizens Brave the Cold
4.02.2012 17:53
Political Demonstrations in Moscow: 200,000 Citizens Brave the Cold
Political Demonstrations in Moscow on February 4, 2012

Russians are well-known for the ability to stand for an idea. Cold, frost, winds, or heat will not stop them, especially when it comes to the prospective elections.

      According to the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, around 170,000 citizens went to three places in different parts of the city that had previously been confirmed as the official venues for political demonstrations on February 4.

      A demonstration of Russian patriots in Poklonnaya Gora saw almost ten times more participants than was expected. Instead of the "allowed" 15,000 138,000 people turned up. Apart from supporting the current Prime Minister, the participants also used the slogans "No Orange Revolution in Russia!", "A random president - a random Russia", "No to Russia's destruction!" Although not exactly a pro-Putin event, it has already been used by the analysists to state that the majority of population do support the current regime. As for Prime Minister, according to a news agency, he proposed to pay the fine, as the numbers of attendees well exceeded the agreed norm.

      The demonstrations of opposition forces have seen much smaller numbers. 40,000 people came to Bolotnaya Square, part of them led the crowds from the centre of Moscow. Headed by Mikhail Prokhorov, the procession "For Just Elections" arrived to the venue where the participants appealed to the citizens to give their votes for either Prokhorov, Gennady Zyuganov, or Sergei Mironov. The venue at Bolotnaya Square expected 50,000 people.

      The least attended was Academic Sakharov Prospect where the latest of the previous demonstrations had been held. This time only 150 people arrived to listen to a long-standing political activist Valeriya Novodvorskaya and an entrepreneur Konstantin Borovoi.

      In the best traditions of Russian political events, these demonstrations were attended by actors and singers and ended with a concert.

      The data supplied by the mass-media differs astonishingly. The main argument is that people were partly forced to attend the demonstration at Poklonnaya Gora. Those organisions that were contacted for explanation vehemently denied the suggestion. There were also rumours that participants in Bolotnaya Square demonstration were also forced to come. It should be said, however, than even in spite of the "caroussels" during the State Duma elections in December 2011, it is highly unlikely that a Soviet-times scenario was truly possible in either case. In many places across Russia demonstrations either gathered up to 400 attendees, or were dissolved altogether, due to extreme weather conditions.

      Russians are also well-known for having a soft spot for those who are heavily criticised and persecuted, especially if there is a feeling that some events are running undercurrent. One of the Russian tycoons, Boris Berezovsky, who has for years been living in a self-imposed exile in London, has recently addressed the Russian youths with an open letter in which he appealed to the "forceful removal of the current powers". The letter was put up online by Echo of Moscow radio station and later removed at the request of the United Russia representative on the grounds of openly proposing a revolution.

      It comes as no surprise therefore that, amidst the events in the Near East and Northern Africa in 2011 and letters like Berezovsky's, many Russians may feel threatened by the unknown powers-that-be and may likely vote for a candidate who promises security, has gained trust, and is not popular in the West.

      Sources: Vedomosti, IA Rex, RIA Novosti, ITAR -TASS, Kommersant Online.


Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian politics Russian society elections 2012   

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