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TEN OF THOUSANDS PROTEST AGAINST ELECTION FRAUD IN MOSCOW


MOSCOW, Russia - Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in the Russian capital yesterday in another massive protest against election fraud, signalling growing outrage with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule.
The demonstration in Moscow was as big as a protest two weeks ago — the largest show of discontent the nation has seen since the 1991 Soviet collapse — although rallies in other cities in the far east and Siberia earlier yesterday drew much smaller crowds.
  • Rally participants gathered on a broad avenue about 2.5km from the Kremlin on a snowy day. A stage at one side of the 700-metre avenue featured placards reading ‘Russia Will be Free' and ‘This Election is a Farce'.
  • Recent protests in Moscow and other cities have dented Putin's authority as he seeks to reclaim the presidency in next March's vote. The Kremlin has responded by promising a set of political reforms that would liberalise election rules.
  • But protest leaders say they will continue pushing for a rerun of the December 4 parliamentary election and punishment for officials accused of fraud. They say maintaining momentum is key to forcing the government to accept their demands.
  • "We want to back those who are fighting for our rights," said 16-year-old Darya Andryukhina, who said she also attended the previous rally.
  • "People have come here because they want respect," said Tamara Voronina, 54, who said she was proud of her three sons who have also joined the protest.
The protests have reflected a growing public frustration with Putin, who ruled Russia as president in 2000-2008, and has remained the nation's No 1 leader after moving into the premier's seat due to a constitutional term limit.
Putin(left photo) has accused the US of fomenting the protests in order to weaken Russia and said, sarcastically, that he thought the white ribbons many protesters wear as an emblem were condoms.In a response to Putin's blustery rhetoric, one protester yesterday held a picture montage of Putin with his head wrapped in a condom like a grandmother's headscarf.
Source: Agency
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