Gorbachev calls for new Russia polls

2011-12-07 17:48

Moscow - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called for Russia's elections to be re-run due to fraud on Wednesday as the opposition vowed new rallies contesting the results despite further mass arrests.

Riot police in helmets roughly dragged over 550 protestors into detention vans on Tuesday evening in central Moscow but the opposition warned they would stage a major protest organised via the internet at the weekend.

Amid growing international alarm, Gorbachev said the results of Sunday's poll should be invalidated and new elections held due to "numerous falsifications and rigging".

"The results do not reflect the will of the people," Gorbachev, president when the Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago, told the Interfax news agency.

"Therefore I think they (Russia's leaders) can only take one decision - annul the results of the election and hold new ones."

US: Polls not free, fair

Vladimir Putin's United Russia party won the polls with a sharply reduced majority, amid signs the prime minister's once-invincible popularity might be waning.

The opposition says that the ruling party's performance would have been even worse in free polls.

The conduct of the polls, which OSCE-led observers said were slanted in favour of United Russia, raised international concern. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the elections were neither free nor fair.

The Russian foreign ministry protested that Clinton's comments were "unacceptable" while top lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said they were drawn from "one of the darkest pages in the recent history of Russia-US relations".

Activists say some results stretched all credibility, such as United Russia's polling 99.50% in the Caucasus region of Chechnya and almost all the residents of a Moscow psychiatric hospital voting for the party.

Protests

Internet-based protesters vowed further demonstrations in the days to come, despite a warning by police that participants in unsanctioned protests would be arrested.

A group "for honest elections" said on its Facebook page that a new demonstration would take place on Revolution Square in central Moscow on Saturday. More than 10 000 members of the Facebook group have already promised to attend.

Another social networking group, calling itself "against the party of swindlers and thieves" - the opposition's slogan for United Russia - said protests would take place every day at 19:00 (15:00 GMT) including Wednesday.

"Come at your own risk," it said. "You can always wait for Saturday's protest."

Russia's liberal newspapers hailed the protests, saying the opposition had finally found a voice against the domination of Putin.

"We prevented the real political process and built cardboard scenery instead. But it's dangerous to hold back a natural process: now it's payback time," wrote liberal daily Vedomosti in an editorial.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta added: "The middle class has started to express its discontent, which is an extremely alarming signal for the authorities."

State security

Moscow Echo radio said six of those detained on Tuesday had already been given jail terms of up to 15 days but it was not clear how many of those arrested were still being held.

Police were already setting up metal barriers around Trimumfalnaya Ploshad where Tuesday's protest was held to prevent another gathering. Opposition activists had also found themselves outnumbered by pro-Kremlin youth bused in to make a show of strength.

The authorities were caught by surprise when the first opposition rally on Monday evening attracted thousands. Influential opposition blogger Alexei Navalny, who coined the slogan "swindlers and thieves", was among those arrested and was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 days in jail.

State television news has virtually ignored the demonstrations, and the morning bulletin on Channel One did not contain a single mention of the protests.

But with the authorities clearly nervous, police said that more than 51 000 police were guarding the city streets, among them 2 000 army conscripts, in a heightened security regime.

United Russia polled just under 50% of the vote after winning more than 64% in 2007 but still held on to an absolute majority of seats in parliament. Its biggest opposition in the State Duma will be the Communists.

Read more on:    mikhail gorbachev  |  vladimir putin  |  russia
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

 
/Motoring
 

Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

 
 

Men24.com

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

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

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. 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

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...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.