J ust two weeks after the Russian capital saw its biggest opposition rally in nearly twenty years, Russians unhappy with the results of the December 4 parliamentary elections have gathered once again.
But this time, it’s in even bigger numbers, with the hopes that their collective voice will be heard. They have come together to protest against vote fraud – and to demand a new ballot.
Protest organizers claim up to 120,000 people gathered for the rally. Police, however, put the figure at 29,000 at the peak of the rally. Officials said the numbers cited by activists would have been physically impossible for the site.
Independent observers, who counted people passing through metal detectors at the entrance to the site, estimate the total number of protesters at around 72,000. Proof of the number is available upon request, observers say.
This time, the demonstration went on even more smoothly than the previous one, with no reported arrests during or following the rally. A group of nationalist activists, who were blamed for lighting flares in the crowd during the protest on December 10, restricted themselves to critical hoots and hisses.
The rally was being held on Akademika Sakharova Boulevard, with nearby streets closed off to traffic. Police refrained from calling in reinforcements from the Defense Ministry, but were maintaining a presence at the rally; metal detectors and barriers were set in advance.
RT’s crew at the scene said the police on duty were friendly and polite, a fact which has also been stressed by human right activists at the rally.