02/23/2012, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Mini-revolution in the Caucasus, hunger strike against the government

by Nina Achmatova
Protest spreads to the provinces: in Lermontov, a former city council members began a hunger strike over ban on their registration in upcoming local elections. Police will not intervene.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The numbers may be small, but the significance of the strike is great, so much so it is being termed a "mini-revolution": eight former members of the council of Lermontov, a town in Stavropol, Caucasian territory, have barricaded themselves in City Hall, from where they have launched a hunger strike. They are protesting against local authorities, which have not authorized their registration as a candidate in the upcoming March 4 municipal elections, for alleged irregularities in the documents. The protesters have the backing of local residents, other unregistered candidates and, apparently, even the police, who will not intervene to clear the hall, as requested by authorities.

The protesters have called for the resignation of the local governor, giving the impression that the feeling of unrest that simmers in Moscow and St. Petersburg, will soon spread to the provinces. "We have lost all confidence in justice," a citizen who rushed to provide support told the website PubliPost.ru.

The blogosphere is full of noting else: many have already defined the story as the "small revolution in the North Caucasus," while the hashtag #lermontov is trending on Twitter.

As one of the strikers told Gazeta.ru, Viktor Kapustin, a member of the Communist Party, the protesters have spent a night camping in the town hall and have "very serious" intentions to continue until their demands "are heard." About a hundred supporters of the initiative have surrounded the headquarters of the town yesterday and are organizing a protest for February 26, the same day of the next big anti-government demonstration, just a week ahead of the election which will probably see Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin for the third time.

It is not the first time that Lermontov has attracted media attention. The 4 December vote for the renewal of the Duma, Putin's party United Russia got the worst result of the territory and one of the worst in the country: 26.7%, against 49% achieved nationally.

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