Thousands of anti-Putin protesters took to the streets of Moscow Saturday in a bid to reinvigorate pressure on the government to introduce reforms in the country. The rally was held to celebrate the completion of one year of the extraordinary challenge launched against Putin’s government.
The protesters gathered in downtown Moscow and organizers said that the anti-Putin demonstration was aimed at reenergizing public pressure, which started in Dec. 2011 with high hopes, but ended tentatively after Putin’s success in the presidential election.
President Vladimir Putin’s government deployed hundreds of police officers at the scene to force the opposition activists to call off their unauthorized demonstration. The demonstrators, however, defied threats of detention.
According to reports, police have arrested at least 40 demonstrators and a number of key opposition leaders to ward them off from participating in a prohibited protest against Putin in front of the ex-KGB security force’s head office in Moscow.
In an emblematic move, several protesters carried bouquets, which they placed in front of a monument for victims of Stalin’s onslaught. Some left the spot right away after placing their flowers at the memorial, afraid of being detained because the congregation was considered unlawful.
The protest was, however, smaller than previous ones that had tens of thousands taking to the streets of Moscow, as its key leaders had been arrested before they had any opportunity to invigorate the throng.
Demonstration leaders Sergei Udaltsov and Alexei Navalny were reportedly arrested by law enforcers just after they joined the gathering. Ninety minutes later, police started arresting others, prompting chants of “Shame!” from the demonstrators who remained.
It is to be noted that the opposition movement has experienced profound hardships in maintaining its vigor since Putin won March election and took swift action against the opposition and rebels in the country, successfully putting off a growing national unrest.
The opposition has continued to be deeply at odds, with little or no agreement on ideological orientations. Nationalists of the right wing have amalgamated with moderate democracy activists and communists, all of whom agreed on nothing more than their abhorrence of Putin and the invasive corruption in government.