03/06/2012, 00.00
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Arrests and scuffles mark newly elected President Putin’s first day

by Nina Achmatova
The opposition rally in Moscow ends with 250 detentions, including the blogger Navalny. All released within hours. The movement promises to return to the streets "until victory"; next gatheringMarch 10 in Moscow.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The first day of newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin was marked by hundreds of arrests and scuffles between police and opposition in Moscow. Just as in December, the day of the elections was tainted by allegations of fraud, after yet another triumph of the Russian premier at the polls, forcing the opposition on to the streets to demonstrate against a vote they considered illegitimate. At the refusal of a part of demonstrators to clear Pushkin Square, site of the rally, riots broke out ending in 250 arrests, including that of blogger Alexei Navalny, leader of the movement. All persons detained were released after a few hours.

Everything was done without incident, in a climate far calmer than expected, one in which Putin himself had warned that his detractors were looking for a "sacrificial victim".

Protesters demanded new presidential elections and vowed to go ahead with the protests, "until victory". According to police, there were 14 thousand participants, while the organizers have spoken about 20-40 thousand. Among the red flags of communists who shared the square with the so-called "non-systemic" opposition and the usual caricatures against the Russian leadership all the major players in the movement addressed the crowd, but also people from outside, such as Mikhail Prokhorov, who finished third at the polls . The billionaire, who wanted to found a party that represents the interests of the middle class, has said he wants to fight for a free country, where citizens vote not out of fear, but according to their convictions. "

"Today we celebrate our victory over fear," said the former chess champion Garry Kasparov convinced that what ran down the face of Putin as he celebrated his triumph, " were not tears, but botox" , with reference to the Premier's alleged cosmetic surgery, so much so that the network describes him as "Mr. Botox".

The most applauded was Navalny, now seen as the most eligible leader of the movement. "We are tired of coming to the streets because we have a conscience, the power and we will force them to live by the law - he said - they have stolen our votes." "From tomorrow we will create a universal propaganda machine, better than the First Channel television so that even in the small Russian village they will know about Putin's misdeeds," added the lawyer-blogger.

The opposition has promised to return to the streets on March 10, with a parade along avenue Kutuzovski, from Victory Park in Novi Arbat, then passing in front of the seat of government, along the route normally used by Prime Minister Putin and the outgoing president, Dmitri Medvedev, to move from their residences to workplaces

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