MOSCOW — A protest demonstration by at least 20,000 people on the eve of
Vladimir Putin's inauguration as president boiled into a battle with police
after protesters tried to split off from the approved venue and march to the
Club-wielding, helmeted officers seized demonstrators and hauled them to
police vehicles, dragging some by the hair. Three leaders of the opposition
movement that gained new life over the winter were among those arrested: Sergei
Udaltsov, Alexei Navalny and Boris Nemtsov.
At least 250 people were arrested and 12 police officers injured, police
said, according to Russian news agencies.
Previous installments of an unprecedented wave of protests that burst out
after fraud-plagued parliamentary elections in December had been marked by
fastidious order. The crowds, sometimes as big as 100,000 or more, had carefully
kept to agreed-upon meeting-places and routes, even making a point of thanking
police who stood guard in vast numbers, but did not interfere.
Sunday's break in that pattern likely reflected a sense of anger and
impotence among protesters upset that Putin was handily elected to a new term in
the Kremlin despite their defiance. Putin, who imposed a political system that
stifled dissent and who dismissed the protesters as callow, pampered youths and
Western stooges, will be sworn in for a six-year term Monday.
Sunday's demonstration started out peacefully, with protesters marching down
a wide avenue to a square on an island near the Kremlin, where authorities had
approved a gathering of up to 5,000.
But some demonstrators aimed to turn up the pressure by trying to split off
and head to the Kremlin, on the other side of the river – and called for the
crowd to head for the bridge leading to the Kremlin.
A phalanx of riot police blocked the approach to the bridge. After about an
hour of tense confrontation, police began pushing protesters back toward the
square and harshly detained some of them. Some demonstrators threw stones at the
police and throat-irritating gas wafted through the air.
Read the rest here.
Read it, understand it.
It's what happens when "the people" protest the power.
Government stifling dissent.
A sense of anger and impotence amongst the people.
Couldn't happen here, right?
Coming soon to a locale near you.