MOSCOW, June 12 (RIA Novosti)
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- Opposition Agrees Protest Route for June 12
- Opposition Party to Protest Controversial Protest Law
- Opposition Figures Walk Out of Putin’s Protest Fines Debate
Tens of thousands gathered in downtown Moscow in the pouring rain on Russia Day on Tuesday for a mass anti-Kremlin rally, the first after legislation on rallies was radically tightened by the government.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin, accused before the rally of preparing a crackdown on the opposition, urged political forces in the country for dialogue and proposed compromise in a speech on Tuesday.
The March of Millions, which was approved by the authorities for up to 50,000 participants, saw the protesters march along downtown boulevards and a stop for a concert and a round of speeches from opposition figures.
The red flags of the Communists predominated with plenty of nationalists also in attendance, according to a RIA Novosti correspondent on the scene. A helicopter circled above.
"While we are united, we can never be defeated," chanted a crowd composed of hardline Communists, liberal democrats and nationalists, summing up neatly for one brief moment the disparate nature of the anti-Putin movement.
"They will not scare us!" chanted protesters at the first demostration since a dramatic increase in fines for protest-related offences, introduced by a bill signed into law by Putin last Friday.
City police said 18,000 showed up for the rally as of 2 p.m. Organizers and opposition media put the figure at between 25,000 and 100,000.
Some 12,000 police officers were deployed throughout Moscow on Tuesday, police said earlier.
Speakers at the event included leftist leaders Sergei Udaltsov and Dmitry Gudkov, liberal politician Boris Nemtsov and opposition-minded writer Dmitry Bykov.
Udaltsov voiced the rally’s formal demands, including a new reform of political legislation, release of alleged “political prisoners,” access to federal television channels for protesters and, most importantly, snap presidential and parliamentary elections.
He also said the protesters demand social reforms, including hikes of pensions and wages. The proposals were met with general, but not overly loud cheer from the crowd.
A new rally will take place in the fall, possibly on October 7, Udaltsov said. The day is Vladimir Putin's 60th birthday. Meanwhile, the opposition should continue permanent protests in the streets of Moscow, where activists attempted to set up camps in recent weeks, Udaltsov said.
The rally wrapped up without any arrests, city police said. A rainstorm hit downtown Moscow as soon as the event ended, dispersing most people ahead of a rock concert that was to follow the political speeches.
“I want to see Putin quit,” said rally participant Alexander Belyayev, an office manager. “Russia is becoming more and more authoritarian, like the Soviet Union.
“But I hope for peaceful change because a revolution will be disaster for Russia,” he added.
Putin said the same day that he proposed dialogue on Russia’s present and future between all political forces in the country, calling such debates a norm for a democratic society.
“It’s important that we hear and respect each other, strive for mutual understanding and look for compromise,” Putin said at an event to celebrate Russia Day, a national holiday.
His spokesman Dmitry Peskov praised both police and rally organizers in a separate statement, saying the peaceful event indicates “growth of political culture” in the country.
The Tuesday rally is the first of its kind since a May 6 event on Bolotnaya Square, which ended with protesters clashing with police and some 650 arrests, according to rights activists. Police put the figure of arrests at around 400.
Thirteen people were later held on charges of starting the riots, and the homes of opposition leaders, including Alexei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov, Ilya Yashin and Ksenia Sobchak, were searched on Monday in connection with the case.
The protest leaders were also summoned for questioning at 11 a.m. on June 12, an hour before the start of the rally.
Navalny, Yashin and Sobchak obeyed the summons, telling reporters they hoped to make it in time for the round of speeches, set to start at 3 p.m.
Udaltsov opted to go to the rally instead, his lawyers formally requesting the investigators to reschedule the meeting. He led the crowd in chanting “Revolution!” at the start of the march.
The opposition leaders are only witnesses in the ongoing check, an Investigative Committee spokesman said on Tuesday. He added that Udaltsov would not face any sanctions over skipping the questioning.
Investigators insisted the searches were legal, but opposition leaders said the move was an attempt at political pressure ahead of the rally.
Tensions have mounted in the country after the clashes in May, with police cracking down several times on camps that protesters tried to pitch in the capital’s center.
A bill has been fast-tracked through the federal legislature recently, tightening rules for staging public events and hiking fines for violations of public order at rallies from 1,000 rubles ($30) to 300,000 rubles ($9,000).
Protest rallies also took place in several provincial cities nationwide on Tuesday, most attracting several hundreds protesters each.
Police detained two rally organizers in St. Petersburg for allowing the event last longer than sanctioned, Fontanka.ru city news website said. A rally organizer was also held in Novosibirsk during the even tover an unpaid fine, Sib.fm said.
In Astrakhan in the country's south, police detained prominent opposition leader and mayoral hopeful Oleg Shein, saying he and his supporters attempted to stage an unsanctioned rally during Russia Day festivities.
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- NikoPoor sheeps !13:41, 12/06/2012They should learn or work to establish a decent life and to gain some succses in their poor lifes. Those days of socialist farytales and utopist communism are irreversaby over !
Today you have to work hard to be happy and succsesfull in your life. Stop blaming government for your missery, blame yourself !
This foolish protests wont change a thing ! Only hard work will !
- free_mind50(no title)17:39, 12/06/2012The only way for Russia and United Russia to deal with this is to succeed in its goals and highlight those goals to the public, the n the space for which the opposition can complain will shrink and people will get tired of them.
They are using the old mantra, if you shout something out enough times its becomes truth, its a gradual breakdown of Russian civic society, by manipulating the impulsiveness of the Russian youth. These factions are so amalgamated that their aim is to bring own President Putin, which will not go over well with the rest of Russia, because the have nothing else to offer besides protest, which has already failed. To counter this United Russia must engage the populace first through its workshops and sponsor various community events, such as volunteer clean up, sponsor school dances, neighborhood watches and improvements, and civic festivals to include movie nights, folk dance Saturday, engage the Russian communities in a holistic way.. This builds repotoire and establishes a community presence. This task should be delegated to its youth division, United Russia must not be afraid to engage the public in a civic manner in all of Russian territory.
Then the next focus should be on political and economic goals, the purview of the politicians, say what you mean and mean what you say, efficiency should be the standard in any endeavor. Accomplishing goals and task should be the means to get there.
They have all failed at the ballot box and know they want someone to blame, the scapegoat if you will.
- free_mind50(no title)18:14, 12/06/2012United Russia needs to come with pen, video and recorder in hand to these protests and their leaders and start asking questions.
who will you replace President Putin with?
what is you plan of action for the future success of the russian Federation?
What are your economic goals and policies for the future succes of all Russian citizens?
What is you plan for attracting foreign investment?
what is you plan for adding new railways and roadways?
What is you plan for the devlopement othe the whole country with regards to housing?
What are your plans to help devlope th siberian region?
what are you plans to lift all russians out of poverty?
What are your plans for a better police force?
What are you plans for better living and working conditions?
Once you start getting the answers from them , the whole shabang will be eposed?
Don't stop with those questions ask them to elaborate , and how their plans or ideas would be more efficient and productive than what united Russia is doing now?
Research, ask them for proof?
Record all this and expose the incompetence to the Russian public, the whole movement will fall apart, they have no plan beside that stupid mantra of removing President Putin.
- bielecJust an example:18:35, 12/06/2012In early 1980s, "Solidarity" movement began in Poland. People were joining it en masse, after one year 10 million members out of 14 million employed in the country. People believed in it, worked for it, took risks, made sacrifices.
In December 1981, the government inmplemented martial law, suspended "Solidarity", interned its leaders. And what happened?
People felt insulted and the movement went underground. But, it was also infiltrated and kidnapped by pro-Western "activists", which lead to corruption, sell-out of the coutry's resources, destruction of its industrial base, invasion of Western banks, supermarkets, and products. Poland joined NATO, joined the EU.
Today, Poland is not a sovereign country, it became a colony run by political opportunists and controlled by Western investors.
I hope that Russian people will take this carefully under consideration. Don't let the Western fashion and Western gadgets blind you - at the end, you will loose your country.
- Nikoha ha ha...give me a break !19:38, 12/06/2012Comparing Poland in 1980 and Russia in 2012 is complete nonsens and lunacy !
Today in Russia you can buy every posible material goods you can posibly immagine (from luxury goods like golden jewlery, diamonds, big houses, luxury cars, fassionable clothes, french cosmetics...to ordinary stuff like McDonnals, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Wall Mart, IKEA, 3D Multiplex Cinemas, Coffe shops, restaurants...
You name it !
Something Poland didnt had in 1980 !
Today Russia is a free country. Russians can travel in Europe, US, Japan, Africa...to Antarctica if they want !
Something Poland lacked in 1980 !
But you have to work hard to earn this goods. Something soome people in Russia (communists, liberals, anarchists, nationalists) aren aware of.
Only material goods can bring happines and freedom to people. Nothing else will !
- bielecReply22:31, 12/06/2012Niko, you lack a perspective on how economy and politics work together. Most of the goods you listed are either made in the West or patented in the West, or franchised from the West. You say - Russians just have to work hard to afford it. Yes, maybe some in Moscow and other big cities. How about average Russians in small towns and villages?
This is a colonial model of economy, where you sell labor and raw materials but somebody else makes profit in technology, retail, and financial services.
It does not matter that Poland in 1980 did not have all these luxory goods. Today, when you go on major streets of any Polish city, you see branches of Western banks everywhere. They offer loans and credits. People take them to buy goods manufactured in the West. Then, they have to work hard to pay these loans back - with interest that leaves the country and goes abroad - so somebode else makes profit.
This is a slow process, but in another 20 years Poland will be economically swollowed by Western investors. And then, a complete political dependency will follow. You can see it already, if you understand how it works and know where to look. And your media won't tell you about it, because it will be owned by the same Western corporations.
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