Tens of thousands back Putin at Russia rallies
Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012
By Marina Koreneva | AFP – 12 hrs ago
At least 50,000 people attended rallies in European Russia, Siberia and the Far East supporting Putin’s candidacy for a historic third Kremlin term in March 4 polls, AFP correspondents and police reports said.
Russians are taking to the streets with increasing regularity ahead of the election as the opposition and camp seek to outdo each other with competing rallies.
Brandishing slogans like “Yes To Changes! No To Revolution!” and “Putin — We Are With You For A Strong Russia!”, at least 10,000 people attended a rally in his support in the former imperial capital of Saint Petersburg
“For me, Putin is stability. In these years I have personally lived better. I am given my pay on time. I have started to be proud of the country,” Putin supporter Anatoly Stepanov, 42, told an AFP correspondent.
Participants were warmed in temperatures of minus eight degrees Celsius by hot tea and Russian pies sold for nominal prices. “Look at those who are against Putin, they are not the people,” grumbled pensioner Anna Patrusheva, 58.
The opposition has accused the authorities of using the state’s resources or even employing financial incentives to encourage people to show up for the Putin rallies.
Several buses were visible on the fringes of the rally that had brought people in from outlying Saint Petersburg regions.
Pro-Putin rallies took place in almost all of Russia’s biggest cities, the main exceptions being Moscowand the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk where the Russian premier was busy attending an economic forum.
According to a police count quoted by Russian news agencies, 12,000 people turned out for the biggest rally in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk seven time zones away under the slogan “We Have Something to Protect!”.
Rallies mustering at least 10,000 people also took place in cities including Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, and Novosibirsk in Siberia, while several thousand came for events in the Pacific port of Vladivostok and the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
The RIA Novosti news agency said police arrested the over-zealous organiser of the pro-Putin rally in the industrial town of Ivanovo outside Moscow after its turnout of 6,000 was double the figure announced to the authorities.
The demonstrations come ahead of a giant pre-election rally on February 23 in Moscow called by the Putin campaign under the slogan “We Protect the Country!” that organisers hope will muster 200,000 people.
The opposition Novaya Gazeta reported on Friday that factory workers from as far away as Krasnoyarsk would be flown into Moscow to boost numbers.
A page has already been set up on Russian social networking site VKontakte promising that participants from outside Moscow will get transport, an “attractive programme” and two hot meals a day.
The rally is to be followed by a rival action in the capital on February 26 by the opposition, which is counting on tens of thousands to turn out to form a human chain around the capital’s inner ring road.
Putin is still widely expected to win the presidential elections, possibly even in the first round, with his four registered opponents failing to provide a significant challenge.
But analysts say the protest movement could give Putin a rough ride going forward as he embarks on a new six-year Kremlin term amid growing expectations of change.
- “Why Is Putin Winning?” Asks Russia Expert (fidest.wordpress.com)
- Russians brave big freeze to challenge Putin (alternet.org)
- Russian TV faces probe over Putin protest coverage (foxnews.com)
- Thousands mass in Moscow for rival Putin rallies (alternet.org)
- Thousands take to Moscow streets to protest, support Vladimir Putin (vancouversun.com)
- Russians stage rival protests over Putin (nation.com.pk)
- Pro Putin supporters hold Moscow rally (russianreport.wordpress.com)
- Russia Protest Nationwide “Russia without Putin!” : PHOTOS (ibtimes.com)
- Gorbachev: Putin has “exhausted” his potential – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- Russians stage different kind of rally against Putin, vote result (latimes.com)
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