Thousands join Russian protests
Updated: 2011-12-10 22:11
MOSCOW - Tens of thousands of Russians went to the streets Saturday to demonstrate against alleged fraud in last Sunday's parliamentary elections.
Russian media reported that the nationwide wave of protests started in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok and was expected to end in the westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad.
The biggest demonstration has been staged here in the capital, from 1400 to 1800 Moscow time (1000 to 1400 GMT), where the city's authorities gave permission for a 30,000-people rally at Bolotnaya Square, across the Moskva river from the Kremlin.
People attend a rally in Bolotnaya square in Moscow December 10, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Rally organizers claimed that about 40,000 people had already gathered at the square and 10,000 others were marching toward the venue from Revolution Square.
But police told Interfax news agency that there were about 25,000 protesters at the site as of 1500 Moscow time (1100 GMT).
Xinhua reporters saw many protesters passing the police security checks and entering the square, holding flags and banners reading "Call for fair elections" and "We demand vote recount."
Some of the banners targeted the country's top leaders, urging them to step down.
"I just feel sick about the regime. But I think the opposition is too motley to be able to change the current situation," Alexander Petayev, a computer programmer, told Xinhua at the Bolotnaya Square.
Another protester, Nisso Mayer, said she came to the rally because she does not trust the election results.
"I know no one voted for the United Russia, so I don't understand how that party won the majority. I'm sure they cheated, " said Mayer, a teacher.
Local media said it was the largest public protest in Russia in almost a decade.
So far, the rally has been peaceful and no incidents have been reported.
Some protesters worn white ribbons on their arms, which was suggested by rally organizers to show this was a calm demonstration and they do not want to clash with police.
Massive opposition protests against the alleged vote fraud in favor of the ruling party Untied Russia have taken place in Moscow and St. Petersburg following Sunday's elections. Police have so far arrested more than 100 protestors.