Motorists circle Moscow in anti-Putin protest

February 20th, 2012 - 3:51 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Feb 20 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Hundreds of cars with white ribbons and balloons drove around Moscow Sunday to protest the expected return of Vladimir Putin as the Russian president in next month’s elections.The white ribbons were adopted by protesters as a sign of discontent after what they said was a rigged parliamentary election in December.

Some motorists also used white tape or grocery bags as they moved along Moscow’s main thoroughfares.

“I’m tired of corruption and all the lies, I don’t want another 12 years of Putin,” said Lyudmila, a 38-year-old lawyer.

“Ordinary people have no say in politics, we want to change this, we want to show that we’re united,” said a student named Danila, who was among pedestrians applauding and waving at vehicles circling around the city.

Organisers said about 2,000 motorists took part in the rally while police put the number at 150.

Sergei Neverov, an official of the ruling United Russia party, said: “Any events associated with movement restrictions disrupt the normal life of citizens, which, of course, affects their popularity.”

A similar rally was staged Jan 29 when organisers said around 3,000 motorists took part. Police at that time said there were only 300 participants.

Pyotr Shkumatov, leader of the motorists’ group Blue Buckets, said there was provocation during Sunday’s protest, including youths throwing chunks of ice and crying insults at some cars.

“Traffic police also closed off a number of streets to prevent activists from reaching the Kremlin,” Shkumatov said.

He said cars brandishing portraits of Putin were getting into the stream of traffic to obstruct protesters’ vehicles.

Activists also reported fake car accidents and road works which they said were designed to interrupt the procession.

On Saturday, Putin supporters staged their own auto run in Moscow. Police said 2,000 cars took part, but the independent Ridus news website said the figure was much lower.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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