TOL slide show: Following Putin’s re-election, Russians pack a Moscow square to rally against the old new president.by Katherine Brooks 6 March 2012
On 5 March, the day after Vladimir Putin’s election to a third term as president, thousands of people gathered in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. The demonstration, planned in advance of the 4 March vote by leaders of the recent protest movement, drew a variety of politically active Russians representing ideologies ranging from anarchist to communist to liberal to nationalist.
Led by major opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov – who has been in and out of jail since the political protests began in December – an estimated 20,000 participants chanted the movement’s unifying slogan, “Russia without Putin.” Both men, along with other opposition leaders, were briefly detained last night.
Flags of all sorts could be seen in the streets surrounding the square as crowds pressed into the area guarded by metal detectors and throngs of police. The official presence, both in Moscow and at another anti-Putin rally in St. Petersburg, was significant, with riot police and military officers lining the main thoroughfares. In Moscow, unbroken police cordons stretched the mile and a half from the opposition protest at Pushkin Square to the pro-Putin rallies in Red Square. In all some 250 Moscow demonstrators were detained, as were nearly 300 in St. Petersburg.