Thousands gather for new protests in Russia

Rally takes place in Moscow; protesters want disputed election re-run; Labor head Yacimovich voices support for protesters.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 24, 2011 14:37
2 minute read.
Protesters in Moscow

Protesters in Moscow 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov)

 
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MOSCOW - Thousands of people gathered in Moscow on Saturday to call for a disputed election to be rerun, increasing pressure on Vladimir Putin as he seeks a new term as Russian president.

The protesters were heartened before the second big rally in two weeks by the Kremlin's human rights council saying a new election should be held, although it is only an advisory body whose recommendations are regularly ignored by Russia's leaders.

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Tens of thousands of people protested in Moscow on December 10 and many more demonstrated across the world's largest country the same day to complain against alleged vote-rigging in the December 4 election won by Putin's United Russia party.

Police said at least 28,000 attended the rally on Prospekt Sakharova (Sakharov Avenue), named after Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov. One opposition leader put the crowd size at up to 100,000 people.

The big turnout is likely to encourage organizers to believe they can keep up the momentum of the biggest opposition demonstrations since Putin rose to power 12 years ago, although the prime minister seems intent on riding out the protests.

In Israel, Labor party  leader Shelly Yacimovich threw her support behind protesters in Russia Saturday, saying the mass demonstrations against the Kremlin over elections earlier this month are a testament to the global movement against corruption.



"Young people around the world are no longer willing to be voiceless subjects to the governments that alienate their people," Yacimovich said in a written statement. "The protest in Russia lends hope to a future headed towards justice and democracy."

Yacimovich took a jab at Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who, shortly following elections in Russia earlier this month, said that the widely unpopular results were fair.

"It's time to shake this embarrassing and enthusiastic embrace that you gave personally to the Russian regime, and to take back your confident assessment that the elections were fair, free and democratic," the Labor party head said.


Lieberman met with Putin in Moscow shortly after the elections, making a public statement afterward that the results were an accurate reflection of the political reality in Russia.

Tens of thousands of people protested in Moscow on December 10 and many more demonstrated across the world's largest country the same day to complain against alleged vote-rigging in the December 4 election won by Putin's United Russia party.

The protesters were heartened by the Kremlin's human rights council saying a new election should be held, although it is only an advisory body whose recommendations are regularly ignored by Russia's leaders.

Many of the protesters wore white ribbons, the symbol of the protests, and others carried balloons and flags at the rally, which brought together liberals, nationalists, anarchists, environmentalists and urban youth on a bitterly cold day.

"The last protest made a huge impression and I want others to come and realize they can stand up for their right. We all know the election result and we all know how dishonest they were," said Andrei Chernyshov, a 22-year-old student.

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