Russian opposition calls ‘millions’ to the streets


Russian opposition forces are taking to the streets on Sunday to protest the upcoming inauguration of Vladimir Putin as the new Russian president. His supporters are staging simultaneous pro-Putin events.

Moscow is expected to host the biggest opposition march as part of a country-wide protest dubbed “March of the Millions”. Organizers hope to attract some 5,000 people to walk capital’s center.

March of the Millions

The route of the march is the same as the February 4 protest, which rallied at least 34,000 people – from Kaluzhskaya Square down Yakimanka Street to Bolotnaya Square. The event is scheduled to last for 3.5 hours, according to the organizers’ application.

The Left Front political movement and their allies, who are behind the “March of the Millions”, believe that both the parliamentary and presidential elections, which took place in Russia recently, were rigged.

They demand greater liberalization of the electoral laws compared to the reform taken by the government in response to the rise of the opposition moods. They also want a new parliamentary election before 2013 and new presidential ballot in spring 2013.

The organizers hope that Sunday’s march will be the biggest opposition event in months. The protest movement, which managed to call some 100,000 people to the streets at its peek, has gone into decline over the months.

A separate opposition group wanted to hold a rally in Manege Square in Moscow’s center, but failed to receive a sanction from the authorities. The site in unavailable for public gatherings at present, because preparations are underway for an upcoming military parade on Victory Day. Police warned they will disperse any crowd trying to assemble there.

Other Russian cities are also gathering for protest events on Sunday as part of the March of the Millions campaign. Demonstrations across Siberian cities may reach a head count of 6,000, organizers hope.

Opposition groups in the part of Russia to the west of the Ural Mountains focused on supplying the Moscow march with regional activists. Events in other cities will be relatively small in numbers.

Russia’s Far East appears to be unenthusiastic over Sunday’s actions. For example, organizers of an unsanctioned rally in Khabarovsk claimed they would draw up to 700 protesters, but managed to gather only five people.

Popular Front anniversary

Meanwhile the pro-Putin movement Popular Front is also holding a demonstration on Saturday to mark its own anniversary and voice their support for the president-elect.

The event scheduled for evening may attract as many as 50,000 activists. They will gather at Poklonnaya Hill. The Popular Front’s leadership assures that their action is not aimed against the opposition events.

The movement was formed in March 2011 prior to the parliamentary election. The idea was to gather pro-governmental forces, which are not directly interested in politics, under a single banner.

Many activists of the Popular Front were added to the candidate lists of the United Russia party for the election. About one third of the MPs in the current State Duma obtained their seats in this way.


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