VIDEO: Throngs of Russian protesters take to the streets, demanding new elections
Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party were the target of protests across Russia on Friday, the largest rally since the downfall of the Soviet Union. They say Putin and his party stole the legislative elections last week and are demanding a new election.
Russians in more than 50 cities took to the streets today in protest of what they say were rigged elections across the country last week.
More than 1,000 were arrested, though protesters insist they'll not be backing down. For three days, authorities banned protests but on Friday, they loosened up, though with a heavy police presence.
"We need fair elections, without falsifications," said one protester, a computer programmer, on the streets of Moscow in protest for the very first time in his life. He was sporting one of the white ribbons that have become the ubiquitous symbol of the movement.
Another protester said the party, United Russia, doesn't understand the depth of anger Russians have.
"They should see that there are too many people who do not agree with these politics," he said.
In general, the protesters believe that United Russia, the part of Vladimir Putin, only won a majority of legislative seats through massive voter fraud. They and the opposition parties have a simple demand: a new election, one in which all parties and candidates will be allowed to participate. Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the opposition, was banned from participating in the election at all, for example.
"Putin stole about 13 million votes. This is not an election. This is real for us," Nemtsov, a former government minister said.
The last time so many people participated in a protest in Russia, it was the start of the events that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union.