Anti-Putin protesters brave big freeze

2012-02-04 13:02

kalahari.com

Moscow - Tens of thousands of Russians marched in Moscow on Saturday, braving freezing temperatures to challenge Vladimir Putin's grip on power a month before the premier stands in presidential elections.

Their third mass rally in less than two months is seen as a crucial test of the movement's ability to keep up momentum despite Putin's refusal to bow to its demands that include a re-run of December parliamentary polls.

Government supporters will stage a rival rally dubbed the "anti-Orange protest" - a reference to Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution that ousted its old order from power and infuriated the Kremlin.

Putin thanked his supporters on the eve of the protest and urged them to dress warmly.

"I am grateful to them and share their views," he said late on Friday.

Complaints have multiplied in recent days that employees of state companies are being offered cash incentives or even being ordered to attend the pro-Putin rally.

Pressured to join pro-govt rallies

Opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that even parliament members and their aides were forced to join the pro-Putin rally in Poklonnaya Gora War Memorial Park despite freezing temperatures.

The newspaper quoted an aide to a senator, who spoke anonymously, as saying "those above have lost their (expletive) mind".

Putin admitted Russians may at times be pressured to join pro-government rallies but said reports of pressure should not be exaggerated.

By contrast, an opposition rally is being called through social networks, with more than 27 800 saying on Facebook they would attend.

The two previous opposition rallies in Moscow on December 10 and 24 gathered tens of thousands in the largest protests of Putin's 12-year rule as first president and then prime minister.

‘Freeze-proof’ march


The new demonstration comes after the country's 10-day New Year holidays and amid a harsh cold spell, with temperatures in Moscow expected to hover around -17°C.

The organisers are hoping the big freeze will not discourage Russians from taking part in the march and subsequent rally.

"It will be a very important event," prominent detective novelist and opposition activist Boris Akunin told AFP. "This march will show just how freeze-proof our sense of dignity and freedom is."

Police said thermos flasks of hot tea and coffee will not be allowed at the demonstration for safety reasons.

For many Russians, Saturday's rally carries special symbolism because it falls on the anniversary of a February 4 1990 rally when up to 300 000 took to the streets just before the fall of the Soviet Union to demand the end of the Communist Party's grip on power.

‘Putin resign’


Authorities have said no more than 50 000 can take part in the anti-Putin demonstration and have made calls to dissuade Russians from turning up.

"Today all of us are determining Russia's future," Boris Gryzlov, a top official in the ruling United Russia party, said on Friday.

"I would like to tell my compatriots - if the future of Russia and that of our children is dear to you, keep away from all those swamps," he said in a reference to the venue of the rally, Bolotnaya Ploshchad (Swamp Square).

Russia's Orthodox Church, which has been watching the opposition calls to demonstrate with growing unease, said Orthodox Christians do not take to the streets but "pray in the quiet of monasteries, cells, and homes."

Smaller anti-Putin and pro-Putin rallies are planned outside Moscow, with the biggest turnouts expected in Saint Petersburg, the Urals city of Yekaterinburg and the biggest Siberian city Novosibirsk.

Some 200 Russian citizens and members of political parties marched in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, carrying signs with slogans including "Putin will be fired" and "Putin resign".

Read more on:    vladimir putin  |  russia  |  russia protests  |  russia elections
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.