On Saturday, March 10, thousands of people gathered in central Moscow to express their opinion that the Russian leader’s recent victory in presidential elections was not fair and demanding reform.
For the first time ever, city officials allowed Novy Arbat, the main road to and from the Kremlin, to be used for an opposition rally "For Fair Elections".
The rally's organizers estimated the number of participants at 25,000 people, police said about 10,000. In fact, it was a mix of liberal opposition activists, nationalists, communists and pensioners, united only by their anger at Russia’s current political reality.
The opposition's demands were the same: an honest election, real freedom of speech, and the release of the political prisoners, including feminist punk-rockers Pussy Riot who were arrested for a performance inside the Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow.
Besides usual speakers, there also were several vote monitors, who had taken part in presidential elections and reported about many violations during the voting campaign. "Putin won in the war for numbers. He is a president of numbers, not of the people," liberal politician Vladimir Ryzhkov said.
Leftist activist Sergei Udaltsov called for a million person march, suggesting future rallies be more common and better organized. After the official ending of the rally he called his supporters to go to the Pushlinskaya square to take part in a 'peaceful gathering'. The group was stopper near the Khudozhestvenny cinema, several people, including Sergei Udaltsov, were detained.
On March 10, there also were two big rallies outside Moscow. Large protest meeting took place in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Both meetings were unauthorized, so police arrested about 40 people in St. Petersburg and 50 in Nizhny Novgorod. All of them were released later.
Sources: Gazeta.ru Lenta.ru Image: RIA Novosti, Russia-IC exclusive photos
Author: Julia Alieva