Largest anti-Putin protest in Russia: thousands gathered
5.12.11 22:39 By Alexandr Artemiev, Sergei Smirnov, edited by Semyon Kvasha
Thousands of protesters gathered in Moscow to challenge election results Photo: «Gazeta.Ru»
Mass protests in the center of Moscow gathered a record number of participants. Police estimates attendance at 2,000, Gazeta.ru correspondents report at least 8,000 protesters who challenged election results. Part of them broke through police cordon and went to Lubyanka square where FSB headquarters are. Lots of people, including activist bloger Alexei Navalny, and some journalists were detained by the police.
Protesters gathered around Chistyie Prudy because they thought the election results were rigged to benefit ruling United Russia party. The crowd was huge by Russian standards, where usually protests gather tens or hundreds of participants. Many people, for the first time, took part in mass protests.
Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and his organization RosPil helped to organize this meeting. He was also in attendance. In his speech, he quoted United Russia, who consider opposition activists "hamsters from social networks." "Sometimes even hamsters can bite through the throat", he shouted.
There weren't many police officers on the square and they were really polite. But later, Ilya Yashin, one of the opposition leaders, called the protesters to move to Lubyanka square and to stage a protest in front of the Central Election Commission, which opposition accuses of mass election fraud. However, Myasnitskaya street, connecting these two locations, was closed. The crowd dispersed and a significant part of it went to Lubyanka using side-streets. Police then started making arrests. Navalny, Yashin, Dozhd TV Channel journalist Ilya Vasyunin, and the chief editor of The New Times weekly Ilya Barabanov were among those detained.
The protesters shouted "Shame on the police." Alexei Navalny was taken to Severnoye Izmailovo police station in an eastern suburb of Moscow.
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