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Russians March in Thousands Against Putin

Russians March in Thousands Against Putin

Tens of thousands of Russians protested in Moscow in the first big demonstration since Vladimir Putin’s inauguration. Leftist politician Sergei Udaltsov was among seven key opposition leaders summoned for questioning an hour before the march was to begin. Via Twitter, Udaltsov indicated that he was ignoring the summons, saying that it was his duty to lead the protest as one of its organizers; his lawyer appeared at the Investigation Committee instead, saying that it would be “irresponsible” for his client not to be present at a rally he had helped to organize.

Others of those summoned — television star Kseniya Sobchak, the liberal organizer Ilya Yashin and the anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny — appeared for questioning. Their summoning just before the protest was to begin was apparently an effort to “strip the event of its headliners.”

Sobchak is the only daughter of a deceased St. Petersburg mayor who was, says the Guardian, was a mentor of Putin. Sometimes called Russia’s “Paris Hilton,” she had not faced reprisals until Monday, when her apartment and those of other opposition leaders including Navalny and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov — were searched by Russian authorities. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said that more than one million euros in cash had been found at Sobchak’s apartment and an investigation would be initiated into whether she had paid her taxes.

The Web site of the Dozhd television station, which has covered the protests extensively, was hacked an hour before the protest was to start.

Despite all this and despite a thunderstorm, thousands of Russians joined the march in Moscow’s central Puskin Square. A march held in May had resulted in fierce clashes between protesters and the police. The Kremlin has pushed through a Parliamentary law — signed by Putin on Friday — fining those who participate in rallies causing harm or death to people the equivalent of $9,000, a huge penalty considering that most people’s average salaries are $8,500.

Activists estimated the crowd at 50,000, while police said that only 18,000 had shown up.

Protesters were defiant, according to the Guardian:

“Those in power should feel this pressure. We will protest by any means, whether peacefully or not,” said Anton Maryasov, a 25-year-old postgraduate student. “If they ignore us, that would mean that bloodshed is inevitable.”

Another protester, 20-year-old statistics student Anatoly Ivanyukov, said attempts by the authorities to disrupt the rally would only fuel further protest. “It’s like when you forbid children to do something, it makes them even more willing to do that,” he said.

The Natalya Z. Mazurchik, a doctor, said in the New York Times that Russia is moving “toward dictatorship at a fast tempo.”

More than 400 people have been arrested since the previous rally in May, with five more detained on Sunday. But the determination to protest the country’s move towards autocracy was apparent, with popular Twitter hashtags in Russia being #hello1937 and #Welcome to the Year ’37, references to the year Stalin came to power.

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11 comments

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7:36PM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Russia will never became democracy while Putin is President! He should step down and let democracy take it's course!

2:53PM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Isn't it amazing how "leftist" politicians and their supporters get all bitter and twisted when they get whipped in an election.

All the American "leftists" better also dust off their walking shoes and get ready....

Seems the masses have had enough of "leftist" politics!

12:21PM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Putin played a game, and it made the people angry. He ran two consecutive terms, then stepped aside for Medvedev, then played for that term again in office. Dirty! So let the people fight the good fight, end this political atrocity!

7:36AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Putin and Medvedev bought army with higher salaries not so long ago, and there are not so many unsatisfied people who stand up against dictatorship.

There is a factual mistake in the article though Stalin came to power right after Lenin died in 1924. Officially he was appointed the General Secretary in january 1926. The year of 1937 - is the widely known year when the political repression went to it's highest point.

But I myself commenting the other article today about the current events in Moscow, also made reference to 30s, so mentioning 1937 is absolutely correct.

7:05AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

Eu também desejo-lhes sorte para eles para parar os ditadores da Rússia que se esta a tornare sorrateiramente perigosa para todo o mundo

7:05AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

What was that Bush said about Putin again? What a fool Bush was. One's a fool the other is a power hungry Stalin wannabe.

3:20AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

I wish them luck to stop a dictatorship that is presented as paternalistic - creepingly dangerous for Russia and all the world. It's deja vu.

11:46AM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

good for them hope it helps

11:09AM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

gutsy

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