Anti-Putin Protesters Move to 'Occupy Moscow'

World | May 11, 2012, Friday // 19:09| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Anti-Putin Protesters Move to 'Occupy Moscow' Russia’s Anti-Putin Protesters Bring Occupy to Moscow. Photo by RIA Novosti

Some 2 000 anti-Putin activists have gathered at a three-day old camp at a square in downtown Moscow’s trendy Chistye Prudy neighborhood

The “Occupy Moscow” activists are holding impromptu debates, strumming guitars and swapping stories from the protests that have continued in one form or another since the eve of their arch nemesis’s return to the Kremlin on May 7, RIA Novosti reported.

“We’re here because we care about the future of Russia and don’t want to see Putin in power for another 12 years,” said student Nikita Belov, as he perched on the low wall of the square’s pond.

Behind him, two young girls with acoustic guitars entertained the crowd with a song from the Soviet-era cartoon “The Bremen Town Musicians,” injecting new relevance into the animated film’s rock-influenced soundtrack, which reportedly infuriated high-ranking officials when it was performed at the Kremlin in the late 1960s.

“We might not achieve our aims, but we have a right to express ourselves,” said Belov, as the crowd clapped their approval of the song, with its refrain of “Freedom.”

RIA Novosti reminds that it was at Chistye Prudy that the first mass protest against he rule of Vladimir Putin took place after last December’s disputed parliamentary polls, as some 5,000 demonstrators led by anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny attempted to take their discontent to the nearby Kremlin walls.

That protest triggered an outpouring of anti-government dissent not seen here since the early 1990s, and much larger anti-Putin rallies followed in the months to come.

The Russian news agency points out that last weekend, the largely peaceful protests suddenly turned violent as demonstrators and police fought pitched battles in Moscow on the eve of Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term.

Hundreds of activists then spent the next three days roaming through the capital’s squares and boulevards, before - amid unconfirmed rumors of rank and file police discontent over the mounting arrests - gathering at Chistye Prudy, around a statue of 19th century Kazakh poet-philosopher Abai Kunanbayev.

Police have so far made no move to detain activists, despite Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, vowing on Thursday that security forces would disperse the “illegal” camp. “All such camps share the same fate, all over the world,” he said, as reported by the Afisha website.

“They won’t close down the camp,” opposition leader Boris Nemtsov insisted in an interview with RIA Novosti. “They can’t jail us all after all.” “Putin is afraid of the protests,” he added. “He’s seen how the people reacted to his inauguration.”

With the protest movement’s figureheads - Navalny and fiery Left Front head Sergei Udaltsov – jailed for 15 days earlier this week, formal leadership of the camp has passed to Solidarity activist Ilya Yashin, backed up by socialite turned dissident Ksenia Sobchak and opposition parliamentarian Dmitry Gudkov.

And the sight of the impeccably made-up Sobchak – daughter of Putin’s political mentor, the late mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak – and the suited and clean-cut Gudkov negotiating with workers ordered to remove the square’s portable toilets late on Thursday provided one of the camp’s moments of high comedy.

“I never thought we’d be dragged into politics over our toilets,” a representative of the company that provided the WCs said as activists gathered in front of his truck.

Despite the high-profile roles of Sobchak, Yashin and Gudkov, activists have largely organized themselves, providing food and setting up volunteer teams to clean up the square, as well as security patrols to deal with local drunks.

Anti-Putin Protesters Move to 'Occupy Moscow'

Some 2 000 anti-Putin activists have gathered at a three-day old camp at a square in downtown Moscow's trendy Chistye Prudy neighborhood

The "Occupy Moscow" activists are holding impromptu debates, strumming guitars and swapping stories from the protests that have continued in one form or another since the eve of their arch nemesis's return to the Kremlin on May 7, RIA Novosti reported.

"We're here because we care about the future of Russia and don't want to see Putin in power for another 12 years," said student Nikita Belov, as he perched on the low wall of the square's pond.

Behind him, two young girls with acoustic guitars entertained the crowd with a song from the Soviet-era cartoon "The Bremen Town Musicians," injecting new relevance into the animated film's rock-influenced soundtrack, which reportedly infuriated high-ranking officials when it was performed at the Kremlin in the late 1960s.

"We might not achieve our aims, but we have a right to express ourselves," said Belov, as the crowd clapped their approval of the song, with its refrain of "Freedom."

RIA Novosti reminds that it was at Chistye Prudy that the first mass protest against he rule of Vladimir Putin took place after last December's disputed parliamentary polls, as some 5,000 demonstrators led by anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny attempted to take their discontent to the nearby Kremlin walls.

That protest triggered an outpouring of anti-government dissent not seen here since the early 1990s, and much larger anti-Putin rallies followed in the months to come.

The Russian news agency points out that last weekend, the largely peaceful protests suddenly turned violent as demonstrators and police fought pitched battles in Moscow on the eve of Putin's inauguration for a third presidential term.

Hundreds of activists then spent the next three days roaming through the capital's squares and boulevards, before - amid unconfirmed rumors of rank and file police discontent over the mounting arrests - gathering at Chistye Prudy, around a statue of 19th century Kazakh poet-philosopher Abai Kunanbayev.

Police have so far made no move to detain activists, despite Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, vowing on Thursday that security forces would disperse the "illegal" camp. "All such camps share the same fate, all over the world," he said, as reported by the Afisha website.

"They won't close down the camp," opposition leader Boris Nemtsov insisted in an interview with RIA Novosti. "They can't jail us all after all." "Putin is afraid of the protests," he added. "He's seen how the people reacted to his inauguration."

With the protest movement's figureheads - Navalny and fiery Left Front head Sergei Udaltsov – jailed for 15 days earlier this week, formal leadership of the camp has passed to Solidarity activist Ilya Yashin, backed up by socialite turned dissident Ksenia Sobchak and opposition parliamentarian Dmitry Gudkov.

And the sight of the impeccably made-up Sobchak – daughter of Putin's political mentor, the late mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak – and the suited and clean-cut Gudkov negotiating with workers ordered to remove the square's portable toilets late on Thursday provided one of the camp's moments of high comedy.

"I never thought we'd be dragged into politics over our toilets," a representative of the company that provided the WCs said as activists gathered in front of his truck.

Despite the high-profile roles of Sobchak, Yashin and Gudkov, activists have largely organized themselves, providing food and setting up volunteer teams to clean up the square, as well as security patrols to deal with local drunks.

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Tags: Russia, Moscow, Vladimir Putin, Russian President, Russians, Boris Nemtsov
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