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New mood of opposition to Putin in Russia

by Ben Neal in Moscow

Some 100,000 people took part in an angry demonstration in Moscow on Sunday against the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin.

In a clear provocation by the state, marchers were barred from access to the officially agreed route and rally point by two lines of paramilitary riot police.

This angered protesters, who bravely fought to break through the lines and to exercise their rights to free assembly and expression.

Hundreds of people were arrested, and dozens hospitalised due to the brutality of the police. But this has made people more determined to oppose Putin’s corrupt and arrogant regime.

Putin won an election which is widely regarded to have been rigged. He received blatant support from the mass media, while opposition activists were harassed and intimidated.

Once the election of Putin as president was confirmed, the protests appeared to have died down somewhat. But the protest on Sunday showed that this mood is still here and, if anything, more militant than before.

Demonstrators were not afraid to fight the police, and flags from the left wing parties predominated—compared to very few from the liberals and hardly any from the far right.

The Russian ruling class have an agenda of neoliberal reforms, such as the commercialisation of education and other essential services. But there is a new mood of opposition to this, as well as to the rampant corruption and arrogance shown by state functionaries at all levels.

Putin may be confirmed as president for a third term, but it is not going to be an easy ride for him.


Article information

International
Tue 8 May 2012, 18:25 BST
Issue No. 2302
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