Sun, 14 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Russia: Opposition calls on voters to protest against Putin

Update : 17 Mar 2024, 21:28

Thousands of anti-Putin protesters staged a symbolic noon protest against the Russian president at polling stations on Sunday, the final day of voting in a three-day election certain to deliver him a landslide victory.

The human rights group OVD-Info said authorities have detained more than 65 people in cities across Russia for protest actions linked to the presidential election.

The vote started on Friday in a poll without real alternatives to Vladimir Putin.

Putin's fiercest political rival, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison last month and other critics are either in jail or in exile. 

What happened at noon?

Voters were asked to crowd polling stations at exactly noon in Russia's 11 time zones to protest without endangering themselves by violating Moscow's strict anti-protest law.

Some Russians seemed to heed the calls, with news agencies noting an increase in the number of voters turning up at polling stations around noon, both inside Russia and at Russian diplomatic missions abroad. 

The Reuters news agency reported several hundreds turning up in Moscow and Yekaterinburg, though acknowledging it was difficult to tell whether the uptick in voters meant they were protesting, or reflected a high turn-out rate.

The French AFP news agency spoke to voters at the polling stations. Some confirmed they were there to answer the call for protest, while others reiterated support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to win.

The "Noon against Putin" initiative posted on its Telegram account on Sunday photos of crowds lining up to vote, saying the protests were already taking place.

It shared photos showing crowds of voters purportedly in Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg.

Navalyny's associates broadcast a video compiling comments by those who were at the polls to protest, blurring their faces to protect their identities. It was not possible to confirm whether those who showed up in the video were in fact protesters.

"The action has achieved its goals," Ivan Zhdanov, the head of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, said in a YouTube broadcast. "The action has shown that there is another Russia, there are people who stand against Putin."

Long lines also formed around noon outside Russian diplomatic missions in Berlin, Paris, Milan, as well as other cities with large Russian communities.

Protesters were joined by Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was the first to publicize the "Noon against Putin" protests.

Navalnaya joined the protests in Berlin. Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's spokesperson, posted photos of his widow standing in long queues in the German capital.

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