Nationwide vote protests kick off in Russia's Far East
A nationwide wave of protests contesting the results of Russian parliamentary elections kicked off on Saturday in the Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok and spread into Siberia.
In Vladivostok, which is eight time zones ahead of Moscow, around 500 people gathered on the Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya square on the harbour for a rally dominated by Communists and a local opposition group called Tiger.
Most of the participants did not carry any banners, with few wearing the protest movement's white ribbon symbol. No one was reported detained.
In Khabarovsk, around 20 people were arrested after more than 50 joined an unsanctioned rally on the city's central Lenin Square next to the city administration's offices, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Police filled two buses with protesters, Kommersant FM radio station reported, estimating that around 80 people were detained, with not all the detainees able to fit into the cells of the city's main police station.
"There are so many people detained that they do not fit into the police cells and they have been put in a meeting room under guard," the radio's correspondent Yevgeniya Sycheva said.
In Krasnoyarsk around 3,500 people gathered in the city's Teatralanya Ploshchad square, said activist Yevgeny Baburin of the Solidarity movement.
No one was detained by police even though the rally was not sanctioned by the authorities, Baburin said. "The police behaved well."
"The main slogans were 'We are for fair elections' and 'Russia without Putin'," he said.
Other Siberian cities followed, with around 500 gathered in the city of Tomsk, Oibek Artykov of the Solidarity movement told AFP.
In Barnaul, more than a thousand people took part in an unsanctioned protest "for fair elections" opposite the city administration's building, according to organisers, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
© 2011 AFP