Over 10,000 at opposition rally in Moscow: AFP
Over 10,000 people turned out at the start of a new opposition rally in Moscow to protest allegedly rigged elections, in a new challenge to Vladimir Putin's domination of the country, an AFP correspondent reported.
More protestors were still streaming into an avenue in Moscow that had been closed off to traffic for the protest, the correspondent said. One police official, who asked not to be named, said there could be as many as 15,000 people but the venue would be able to hold over 50,000.
Many protestors were clutching white balloons and banners with the slogan "For Free Elections". Another banner held up by a group of protestors said: "We woke up and this is only the beginning."
"We are here to show our anger. They (the authorities) install their own friends in power and they have split everything up between themselves. They are just like the Communists in the Soviet era," said protestor Oleg Lefonov, 40.
Symbolically, the avenue where the protest was taking place is named after the Soviet dissident and former Nobel peace prize winner Andrei Sakharov. Loudspeakers played the legendary song of Soviet rock musician Viktor Tsoi "We Want Change!".
Incensed by claims of wholesale violations in the polls that handed a reduced majority to prime minister Putin's United Russia, tens of thousands of people already took to the streets across Russia on December 10.
The protests were the biggest show of public anger in Russia since the chaotic 1990s and the first sign of a growing challenge to Putin's 12-year domination of the country.
© 2011 AFP