06/13/2012, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Rain and fines do not frighten Moscow, as thousands protest against Putin

by Nina Achmatova
The second "march of the million" took place without some of the opposition leaders, being interrogated on charges of inciting violence in the previous event. From the stage the "free Russia" manifesto read : resignation of Putin and the new electoral law. Analysts: now a new political future is possible.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Despite the rain and the new draconian anti-rallies laws launched in Russia, thousands of people marched yesterday in central Moscow in the second "march of a million," the latest opposition organized anti-Putin demonstration. Over 120 thousand for the organizers, 22 thousand for police and more realistically 50 thousand for the media, gathered in Pushkin Square and then walked in procession up to Sakharov avenue, where some of the leaders of the movement spoke from the stage, without their most charismatic 'colleagues': Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin and Ksenia Sobchak. All three were being questioned, on the eve of the demonstration by the Russian Investigative Committee, which is investigating the violence that erupted in the previous event on 6 May, when dozens of people were injured and 400 arrested in clashes between demonstrators and police.

This time there were no riots, and despite the harsh tones used in the slogans of the square ("Putin, resign, Putin Thief, the Duma is the shame of this country")about 12 thousand law enforcement agents held vigil. There were also fewer Omon, the notorious riot police, while among the crowd you could see signs with the date "1937", the beginning of Stalin's purges.

In a speech to coincide with the protests marking Russia Day (celebrating the birth of the Federation in 1991), Putin himself appeared conciliatory when he stressed the importance of "listening and respecting each other and searching for compromise. " Except then he warned, however, that "it is unacceptable that any decision could lead to social and economic shocks." A clear reference to the intentions of the opposition in the streets, always accused of wanting to stir up revolutions.

The charismatic lawyer and blogger Navalny hoped to the last to join the protesters, but then had to give up. After the raid in his house and those of eight other 'dissidents' on 11 June and the interrogation on the evening of June 12 he was escorted to the anti-corruption organization RosPil headquarters for further searches.

But the Moscow protesters have shown that they do not need any leaders in particular to go forward. From the stage the " free Russia manifesto " containing the demands of the opposition was read. No longer simply "honest elections" like this winter, but first the resignation of Putin, a new electoral law and limits to the presidential mandate. If the demands are not met, protesters will continue with strikes and civil disobedience.

According to the newspaper Vedomosti, the second March of one million shows that " a new political future" for Russia could be born, with a civil society that is institutionalized and the government that has began to seriously consider the opposition "though it still can not find a way to communicate with it, if not through interrogation."

"I think those in power - said Sergei Udaltsov, leader of the left also subjected to 'preventive searches' - is entering into a panic, they do not know how to deal with an urban movement that never stops growing. They know it is a dangerous phenomenon and need to repress it. If the power believe fear is the answer it is wrong. It will only result in more people in the streets. " Politician Mikhail Kasaniov is of the same opinion, who also spoke at the rally: the protests must continue, despite the attempts at "intimidation" by the authorities. "At year end we really will be a million people," he predicts.

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