Russia’s Communists are leading a protest against ‘colossal’ election fraud.
On Saturday, Russia’s Communist Party staged a thousand-strong protest in central Moscow against what they dubbed “colossal” election fraud, while police detained a number of activists.
It was the first large-scale Moscow protest since the contentious polls earlier this month, and police did not break up the unofficial rally, instead blasting loud music to drown out the demonstrators.
According to OVD-Info, which tracks detentions at opposition rallies, authorities detained a number of activists before and during the protest, including Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of a radical socialist group called Left Front.
President Vladimir Putin hailed the governing party’s “convincing victory” and claimed Russian democracy was strengthening as he greeted the heads of five parties that gained parliamentary seats, including Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, at his mansion outside Moscow.
After the severely unpopular ruling United Russia party won an overwhelming majority in parliament in legislative elections, Putin’s opponents accused the authorities of rampant fraud.
The three-day voting came after a historic crackdown on the opposition, which saw Putin’s most prominent critic Alexei Navalny imprisoned and his organizations formally outlawed.
Many Russians in Moscow and elsewhere supported the Communists as a form of protest voting, some for the first time, thirty years after the Soviet Union collapsed.
An AFP correspondent reported that over a thousand protestors gathered in Pushkin Square on Saturday as Communist leaders denounced what they called a rigged election.
The mob screamed, “Putin is a robber!” and demanded that political prisoners be released.
Some demonstrators held signs calling for a recount, while others backed Navalny.
Despite the fact that some demonstrators declared they did not embrace Communism as a political philosophy, they showed up to express their displeasure with vote fraud.
“There aren’t just Communist Party members here,” Deniza Lisova, 26, told AFP.
“Everyone is here, and during the election, we all voted for the Communist Party.”
Electronic voting results in Moscow, which reversed Communist Party candidates’ substantial leads during the September 17-19 election, enraged Communist Party members.
“United Russia has stolen parliamentary mandates,” demonstrators were warned by Valery Rashkin, the Communist Party of Moscow’s first secretary.
“In Moscow, there has been massive voter fraud,” Rashkin said, adding that the party would challenge the election results.
Ruslan Karpov, a protester, echoed this sentiment.
“I don’t believe the internet voting was honest because it’s hard to control who voted for whom,” the 29-year-old added.
Some of Navalny’s closest associates praised him. Brief News from Washington Newsday.