12/12/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA

Russia against Putin, the Orthodox Church warns against "revolutions"

Nina Achmatova
The central government fears uprisings along the lines of Ukraine’s orange revolution, but people just want to see their right to transparent elections respected. Medvedev opens an investigation into possible election fraud. Anti-Putin groups plans another rally for December 24.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - After a wave of demonstrations throughout Russia on 10 December denouncing alleged electoral fraud and against the ruling party United Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church is urging people not to allow scenes of civil war .

The white balloons, flowers and coloured ribbons that filled Balotnaja Square in Moscow, where the largest demonstrations of the Putin era were held, are seen by the central government as a possible sign of a dreaded "colour revolution", along the lines of the one in Ukraine in 2004 which led to the annulment of the presidential election. The Orthodox Church seems to share the same concerns. "We can not but express satisfaction with the fact that the demonstrations in all Russian cities were peaceful and within the law - said Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin Head of Department for relations between the Church and society at the Patriarchate of Moscow - but the most important thing now is to maintain civil peace and not allow new 1905, 1917, 1991, 1993, "referring to the dates of the major revolutions and social unrest in Russia of the last century. Quoted by Interfax, Chaplin later admitted that "serious questions were raised, which are inconvenient for the authorities, who we hope will respond in an adequate and honest manner."

The protest movement has proven to be anything but violent. It is demanding the release of the protesters arrested last week, another vote and the removal of the head of the Central Election Commission. “We have a constitutional right to transparent elections - said Kirill, 30, a young protester – we do not want to overthrow any power, but only go to the polls convinced that our vote is worth something." If its demands are not heard, the opposition is planning a major new demonstration for December 24. From the Moscow stage a letter was read from the blogger Alexei Navalny, arrested and sentenced to 15 days detention for "resisting police" and urging Russians to "break free from the chains."

After initial indifference and total censorship on public television, the Kremlin has been forced to face the protest. President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered investigations into allegations of fraud in the vote held on December 4 last, which crowned United Russia victors by a slim majority. On his Facebook profile, the head of state said he did not share the slogans of the protest, whose main targets were the Prime Minister Putin and the government. "Russia without Putin", "Russia without corruption", "Free elections" shouted the people of the square.

For experts a new middle class is emerging, comprising educated young people, small businessmen, professionals and intellectuals. Within 10 years, they will represent 60% of the national population and yet are without any political representation. In the aftermath of enthusiasm for the "revival of Russian civil society," as some media have called Saturday’s protests, the question of who can lead and form this emerging sector of society is already being asked.
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