Russia’s new movement of millions challenging Putin’s regime

Around 20,000 people protested in Pushkin Square in central Moscow in March against Vladimir Putin’s claim to have won the presidential election

The demonstration was part of the ongoing movement against Russia’s corrupt and authoritarian regime, which was sparked by huge levels of fraud in the parliamentary elections last December.

This is the biggest grassroots political movement in Russia for many years. Demonstrations have taken place all over the country with enormous turnouts in Moscow despite the freezing weather.

More than 100,000 surged through Moscow in February in one of the largest demonstrations.

People are losing their fear of repression and their pessimism over prospects of changing the system.

Protesters have vowed to continue the fight against the regime. Some on the most recent demonstration advocated occupying the square until their demands were met.

Putin was elected in the first round of the presidential election with 64 per cent of the votes. The opposition argues that the real figure is far lower. The state and mass media largely back Putin.

The anger is spreading from the fraudulent elections, to the rampant corruption at all levels of society, the blatant inequality which can be so clearly seen on the streets of Moscow and the privatisation of university education.

After serving the maximum two consecutive terms, Putin swapped places with his puppet, Dmitri Medvedev, to become prime minister. Putin remains the real power in the country.

He assumed he would simply walk back into the presidency for another two terms. But his arrogance has angered many.

Now many people do not expect Putin to last for his whole term.

Certainly he will not rule with the ease he did before.

Russians are rediscovering the power of mass action.

Ben Neal, Moscow

Adapted from Socialist Worker UK


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