Dictatorship Rocked by Popular Protests: Can The Oil Czar Last? Thousands Shout Step Down Putin! | Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles
The movement against Vladimir Putin was Sunday preparing new rallies to loosen the Russian strongman’s 12-year grip on power after keeping up their challenge with a third mass demonstration in Moscow. Tens of thousands marched through Moscow Saturday despite bitterly cold weather to protest against Putin’s domination, with organisers disputing police claims that a pro-Putin rally elsewhere in the capital was even larger.
Putin is still expected to win March 4 presidential elections where he is seeking a third Kremlin term after his four year stint as premier, but protest organisers emphasised that the polls mark only the start of their challenge.
The march on Bolotnaya Square over the Moscow river from the Kremlin was the third mass rally since fraud-tainted December 4 parliamentary elections sparked demonstrations that smashed the taboo against protests in Putin’s Russia.
“We will come again,” organisers wrote on their Facebook page Sunday morning under a picture of protestors sending hundreds of balloons into the Moscow winter sky.
One the chief organisers of the anti-Putin movement, politician Vladimir Ryzhkov, said he did not rule out holding a mass rally on February 26, one week before the polls, though most likely it would be a smaller “flash mob” action.
“The big meeting is going to be on March 11 since, as far as I am aware, the extent of the fraud in the presidential elections is going to be huge.”
Putin’s biggest challenge in the elections is likely to come from Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who some analysts believe could push him to a second round but is an unpalatable figure for many in the protest movement.