The authorised March of Millions protest in Moscow on Tuesday turned out to be peaceful, with no clashes or provocations reported. Opposition activists marched from Pushkinskaya Square to Prospekt Sakharov in central Moscow. At midday, the participants started gathering on Pushkinskaya Square. To keep the peace during the march, they divided it into two columns, the one on the left comprising communist activists, headed by Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov. The right-hand column featured people belonging to numerous political groups, including environmental activists and gay rights activists, led by Gennady Gudkov, an RF Gosduma Deputy from A Just Russia, Mikhail Kasyanov, co-chairman of the unregistered People’s Democratic Union party, and Yevgeniya Chirikova, the leader of the Defend Khimki Forest movement. The nationalists, who carried imperial yellow-and-black flags, marched to the sound of drumbeats. However, a minor scuffle occurred between the nationalists and gay activists, although it all ended peacefully.
The protesters chanted, “Authority to the millions, not to the millionaires!”, “If we’re united, we aren’t defeated”. Others carried banners reflecting their concerns about the country’s social policies, “We want free healthcare and education”, “Against the rule of red tape”. Maria, a pensioner, said, “The people are all very different here, but we’re all are equally worried about the future of Russia. I’ve come because I care for the future of Russia, for our education, our children, our healthcare. I attend rallies to express my discontent”.
All the participants agreed that the rally was well-organised. Unlike the previous demonstration on 6 May, which ended in clashes with riot police, this time the event unfolded peacefully. Volunteers helped the police to keep order during the march and prevent any provocations. 12,000 police officers were on duty during the march, and both the participants and the passersby praised them. Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, said, “The March of Millions was well-organised, the police were attentive and friendly”. Vladimir, a rally activist, commented, “Everything was organised perfectly! The only problem was that we had too little space to rally, as the number of participants was so large! I’m here to express my worries about what’s been going on in the country. If the people lack confidence in the authorities, they have a right to say this”.
The police say the opposition march attracted 15,000-18,000 people, although the organisers claim the number of participants was much higher. The MVD released images photographed from a helicopter to let the media and the public assess the number of participants on their own. A heavy rain forced many of the participants to leave the rally venue. The opposition leaders invited their supporters to attend the next rally in October.
12 June 2012
Voice of Russia World Service
What I do is to take the number of marchers claimed by the police and the number claimed by the organisers and split the difference. The exception to this rule is the so-called Pro-Life movement. Personal experience has taught me that many Pro-Life leaders are egregious liars, so, I tend to discount anything (not just figures) I hear from them. They’re nothing but running-dogs for the worst faction of the Hard Right in the Republican Party, sadly enough. As for the present march in Moscow, the organisers claimed 50,000; the police claimed 18,000. The difference is 32,000; so, divide it by two, which comes up to 16,000, so, there were probably about 35,000 marchers in the anti-Putin rally, of whom two out of three were KPRF and Left Front people (based on my view of the available images… a whole lotta red out there).
This proves that the only political parties worthy of the name in Russia are the Left Front and the KPRF. Shall they merge in later years? Perhaps… we’ll be able to see it better after Gennady Zyuganov retires from active politics (since he was born in 1944, it may be near). All other “parties” are really factions centred on one or another political “celebrity”, including United Russia. Does this mean that the “Future is Red?” Not necessarily, but it’s certainly possible.