Friday, June 21, 2024
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Russian protests start, police on alert

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VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: A day of nationwide demonstrations against Vladimir Putin and alleged election fraud began in Russia’s far east on Saturday, in a test of the opposition’s ability to put pressure on the man who has dominated the country for more than a decade.

Witnesses said about 1,000 people protested in Vladivostok on the Pacific coast and RIA news agency said about 20 were detained in Khabarovsk, a city with almost 580,000 people about 30 km from the border with China.

Thousands of people are expected to turn up for rallies in dozens of cities, from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad nearly 7,400 km away to the west, in the biggest political protests since Putin came to power in 2000.

A parliamentary election last Sunday, in which Putin’s United Russia party won only a slim majority in the State Duma lower house, showed growing discontent with his rule.

Protesters, who this week staged the biggest opposition rally in Moscow for years, say only widespread falsifications prevented the result for United Russia being much worse.

The ruling party’s leaders have denied cheating and Prime Minister Putin has accused the United States of encouraging and financing the protesters. (Reuters)

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