Putin victory stirs discontent
With a tear streaming down his cheek, Vladimir Putin announced his victory in his third presidential campaign on Sunday with a huge 63.7 percent lead over his opponents. But thousands of Russians rallied Monday in a central Moscow square to challenge Putin’s election shouting “shame” and “Russia without Putin.” Hoping to keep alive three months of unprecedented demonstrations against his twelve year rule, protestors are pointing towards a race heavily slanted in Putin’s favor and reports of widespread voter fraud in Sunday’s election.
Supposedly claiming sixty-three percent of the vote on the nearly complete returns, Vladimir’s opposition and those independently involved say the election was marked by enormous fraud. International monitors pointed out that there was practically no real compettition and the voting count was “assessed negatively” in a third of the polling stations that voters attended. “Abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt and broadcast media was clearly in favor of one candidate and didn’t provide fair coverage of the other candidates. ”
Outraged protesters squeezed into a crowded St. Petersburg Square to voice their demands on Monday. With a tight security force of twelve thousand riot police stationed to ensure order, the main rally remained peaceful, but several dozen protesters were detained when they tried to walk towards the Kremlin after the protest. Among the arrested was the heavily influential Alexei Navalny, who exclaimed “they robbed us!” and “we are the power” to cheering crowds before he was taken away by authorities.
A few hundred protestors remained in the square after the protest was finished, urging leaders and activists not to leave until Putin stepped down. One protestor shouted to the crowd, “If it was a free election, why have they flooded the entire city with troops? They fear us!”
The authorities’ force was intense with many trucks carrying shield-bearing riot police and vans stationed around town to detain any unruly protestors or those gathered in unsanctioned protests such as those in St. Petersburg, where one hundred were arrested out of the gathered two thousand. Eduard Limonov, the leader of the banned Bolshevik Party, was also detained with several other supporters when they attempted to hold a protest near one of Russia’s main security agencies.
Putin unsurprisingly won against a weak set of Kremlin-appointed candidates, and many across the divided country see him as a promise of stability and a defender for Russia- an image he carefully crafted during his previous twelve years in office. He has been heavily dependent on state-controlled television stations where he has denounced his opponents as western puppets working to weaken Russia.
Senator John McCain, who has coerced Putin before on Twitter said this:
Dear Vlad, Surprise! Surprise! You won. The Russian people are crying too!
quotes courtesy of CBSnews.com