From Communists to office workers, Russians unite in protest
Die-hard communists stood side-by-side with young office clerks at Moscow's largest rally in decades Saturday, all calling for an end to Vladimir Putin's 12-year dominance and for polls at which their voices are heard.
"I have not seen Moscow like this for 20 years," renowned detective novelist and liberal supporter Boris Akunin said from the stage, adding it was his first time speaking at a rally.
He was not alone. Many people who came to Moscow's Bolotnaya Square said they had not taken part in protests before, but were simply fed up with what they perceived as a lying and cynical regime.
"I don't like being lied to," said 33-year-old Yevgeny, an actor, adding that he hopes for a recount of the votes or fresh polls. "We've been lied to before, but this time people have had enough."
Police ushered people through dozens of metal detectors as riot squads patrolled the nearby embankment.
But the police did not use batons against the peaceful, high-spirited rally, despite slogans like "Russia without Putin!" and "Churov, go to jail!" in reference to Russia's central election commission chief.
Young women handed out white tulips and daisies, and many people were picking up white ribbons -- the campaign symbol-- to tie on their lapels in a sign of shared support for change and rejection of the election results.
Liberal Yabloko party members spoke from the same stage as nationalist ideologue Konstantin Krylov at a rally that appeared to include everyone except Putin's United Russia party, which won Sunday's parliamentary elections.
"I defended the parliament building in 1993 from tanks," said Gennady, a 65-year-old former education official and a Communist.
"This is similar in numbers and its uninamity to the rallies of the early 1990s, but the goals are different."
"The regime must work honestly or leave," he said. "Most people don't trust their fancy words any more. It's becoming a mass phenomenon, and it's great to see so many young people here."
Some young people wore carnival-style masks and held up badminton rackets, making fun of a much-mocked video on Dmitry Medvedev's official blog showing him and Putin playing a limp game of badminton.
"I am tired of complaining over the Internet. I wanted to move my behind from the computer and come to this rally," said Dmitry, who called himself an apolitical office clerk.
"I hope this rally will be noticed."
© 2011 AFP