Thousands March in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Demonstrators in Moscow. Source: kasparov.ruOn March 3rd, protesters took to the streets across Russia en masse in gatherings known as “Marches of Dissent” to voice their discontent with Russia’s current political landscape. In St. Petersburg, over 2500 demonstrators from numerous opposition groups and youth movements marched to Chernyshevsky Garden and listened to speeches by leaders of The Other Russia coalition, including Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov.

“After the disgraceful farce of the ‘elections,’ Medvedev, Putin and Zubkov went to celebrate their victory over Russia,” Kasparov told the crowd. “It’s up to us when this Sabbath, which threatens Russia, will end.”

In Moscow, where authorities refused to grant a permit of assembly, dozens were arrested as police rushed the crowd with batons. Nikita Belykh, the leader of the Union of Right Forces Party, was carried off by camouflaged OMON Special Forces troops. Lev Ponomarev, the chairman of the “For Human Rights” movement, and Denis Bilunov, the executive director of the United Civil Front were also among those arrested.

Participants expressed outrage at the March 2nd presidential election, and what they see as a growing authoritarianism on the part of the Kremlin. Dmitri Medvedev, the chosen successor to President Vladimir Putin, easily took the contest, even as members of the opposition were prevented from appearing on the ballot. Limonov called the election an “abominable swindle.”

The protesters carried signs reading “We Need Another Russia!” and “Down With the Police State!” Some brought whistles and large banners, and other lit flares.

Both demonstrations were met by hordes of armed riot police.