Thousands of Russians Protest Putin’s Power Grab

Vladimir Putin always intended to secure a return to power, and with Dmitry Medvedev’s tenure as Prime Minister coming to an end, Putin wants to take over.

The Russian people, however, are not warming up to the idea.

Tens of thousands of flag-waving and chanting protesters called Saturday for a disputed parliamentary election to be rerun and an end to Vladimir Putin’s rule, increasing pressure on the Russian leader as he tries to win back the presidency.

The protesters shouted “Russia without Putin” and “New elections, New elections” as one speaker after another called for an end to Putin’s 12-year domination of the country at the second big opposition rally in two weeks in central Moscow.

“Do you want Putin to return to the presidency?” novelist Boris Akunin asked from a large stage. Whistling and jeering, protesters chanted: “No!”

Witnesses said at least as many people turned out as at the last big Moscow rally on December 10 to protest against alleged vote-rigging in the December 4 election won by Putin’s United Russia party.

Police said at least 28,000 attended the rally on Prospekt Sakharova (Sakharov Avenue), named after Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov. But one of the organizers, liberal politician Vladimir Ryzhkov, put the crowd size at 120,000. Some climbed lamp-posts or trees to get a better view.

The big turnout is likely to encourage organizers to believe they can keep up the momentum of the biggest opposition demonstrations since Putin rose to power in 1999, although the prime minister seems intent on riding out the protests.

“I see enough people to take the Kremlin and the White House (government headquarters) right now!” anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who has emerged as the most inspirational of the opposition leaders, said to loud cheers.

“But we are a peaceful force, we won’t do it – yet. But if the crooks and thieves continue trying to deceive us and lie to us, we will take (power) ourselves. It is ours!”

……President Dmitry Medvedev, who is stepping aside for Putin to return to the Kremlin after four years as prime minister, has promised electoral reforms to relax the Kremlin’s grip on power.

This is not the first time they’ve taken to the streets against Putin. Medvedev’s stint as prime minister has been a farce; he was put in office largely due to Putin and served as Putin’s sockpuppet for the last 4 years.

Vlad is an old KGB officer and never assimilated into the post-Soviet democratic movement.  If he gets back in power, it will not end well.

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