Tens of thousands of Russian protesters took to the streets of Moscow on Tuesday morning in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s rule since being inaugurated in May. Since that time Putin has taken a hard stance against his opposition, going so far as to sign a new bill that introduced heavy penalties to anyone engaging in unauthorized rallies.
The protest began just one day after Russian police searched the homes of opposition leaders, taking away their cellphones, computers and various other personal items.
Protesters timed their rally around Russia Day which celebrates the June 12, 1990 decision that Russian laws should overtake Soviet Union laws, one year later the Soviet Union collapsed.
Despite the promises of arrests and hefty penalties if the protest got out of hand thousands of people showed up at Pushkin Square, so many people packed the area they ended up on tree-lined streets around the city’s center. The protest continued despite a violent police crackdown on a protest in May.
In the meantime the Twitter hashtag “Welcome to the Year ’37” has been trending on the social networking site. The “37” refers to 1937, the year Soviet dictator Josef Stalin began “purges.”
Protesters were able to gain city approval for the current protest however it must remain in its current location and abide by a certain timeframe to remain legal.
Following the protest one of its leaders leftist politician Sergei Udaltsov urged rally supporters to cross the street to the Investigative Committee’s headquarters to demand the release of political prisoners, a request that is likely to be met by strong police force.
In the meantime journalist Sergei Parkhomenko says authorities are hoping for some type of violent reaction from protesters so they can back their own need for political suppression. According to Sergei:
“They would be happy to stage some kind of provocation to prove that the people are just a herd of animals and the animals are always out of control.”
Do you think Vladimir Putin is out of line with his hard stance against rally’s and other forms of political dissent.