Protests continue in Moscow, as Gorbachev calls for nullifying elections
An extraordinary political refashioning is underway here as protesters galvanized by widely reported electoral fraud are demanding that their government obey the law.
What began in the minds of individual Russians is now playing out on public squares where crowds of protesters have confronted swarms of police.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Russia for a parliamentary election she said was rigged. Later, Clinton encouraged activists from Belarus to continue opposing a crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime. (Dec. 6)
Since Sunday’s elections, won by the ruling United Russia party with a reported total of just under 50 percent of the vote, a sense of disgust that had been gathering weight has found a public voice.
Unsanctioned — illegal — protests have broken out in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don and elsewhere of a size rarely seen in Vladimir Putin’s dozen years in power.
Closing public squares
On Wednesday police sealed off Triumfalnaya Square, the scene of past protests. A radical party called the Other Russia said 70 members were detained on the way to the square in the evening.
The New Times magazine reported that the city was closing Revolution Square for reconstruction; that was to be the site of a major rally Saturday, and 20,000 people have signed up on Facebook promising to attend. The city later suggested that the work would be done by Saturday after news of the closure lit up the Twittersphere.
It could run out of steam. A few million voters turned against United Russia at the polls Sunday, and a few thousand, in a capital city of 13 million, have taken to the streets to protest an election deemed neither free nor fair. The vast majority of Russians are home in front of their big-screen TVs, seeing almost nothing of this activity because television news isn’t reporting it.