Russia allows anti-Putin protest in Red Square


A Russian opposition activist offers a white ribbon, a symbol of opposition, to a police officer during an opposition demonstration at the Red Square in Moscow on April 8, 2012.


Alexey Sazonov

A protest against the rule of Vladimir Putin went ahead in Moscow's Red Square on Sunday, in a rare display of leniency from Russian authorities.

Demonstrators wearing white ribbons strolled unhindered past the Kremlin walls, Lenin mausoleum and the ancient St Basil's Cathedral, with the Kremlin's peaceful reaction surprising organizers of the "Let’s Turn Red Square White" protest, the LA Times reported.

Red Square is located next to the Kremlin, the official residence of Russian presidents.

Some protesters handed out leaflets as part of their campaign against alleged ballot-rigging at recent elections, according to the BBC.

However, a prominent opposition leader, Yevgeniya Chirikova, leader of the Khimki Forest group, was detained when she tried to erect a tent, the Associated Press wrote.

"The tent is a symbol of our resistance to the illegitimate government," Chirikova reportedly tweeted later.

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Putin, now the President-elect, faced unprecedented protests involving tens of thousands of people in the months before the March presidential elections.

Protests were not allowed on Red Square during the elections.

Organizers of Sunday's protest said they didn't seek official permission to protest, as official demands for such permission would violate their right to freedom of assembly. "It's our city and we walk where we want," they reportedly wrote on Facebook.

According to Reuters, "hundreds" of demonstrators turned out.

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"I feel like I've come to another planet, I do not understand what is happening, this is the Kremlin," activist Vitaly Zalomov reportedly said. "Where are the police?" 

According to the Guardian, the Kremlin has agreed to limited political reforms in response to ongoing post-election protests, but rejected the main demand for a rerun of the Dec. 4 parliamentary election, which government critics claim was rigged.

The opposition said it would keep up the fight in local elections and street protests.

Activists argue that the authorities are when they demand advance approval of the location and the timing of a protest.

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