MOSCOW, December 13 (Itar-Tass) — On Monday United Russia supporters gathered on Manezhnaya Square to respond to the opposition’s Saturday meeting. According to the law enforcement agencies, on the Constitution Day 6,000-8,000 people, who share the authorities’ position in relation to the parliamentary elections, gathered in Moscow’s centre. United Russia members said this rally launched Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign. Young people from different cities demonstrated their disagreement with the slogans chanted on Saturday.
Hundreds of young people with blue and black drums from Lipetsk, Bryansk and other cities gathered on the square, Kommersant wrote. “This is a sort of our new token – we silence the opposition with drums,” a member of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Stal (Steel) said. The first deputy secretary of the United Russian presidium, Andrei Isayev, told supporters that the rally gave the start to the presidential campaign of Vladimir Putin, “who will lead the country for six years along the path of prosperity.” “Russia! Putin! Constitution!” Isayev began chanting, but no chorus of voices followed, just several dozens of people caught up.
The rally brought together different people – young boys and girls, middle agers and elderly people, Novye Izvestiya wrote. They gathered in the middle of the working day, some explained that they took day offs for this purpose, others explained nothing trying to escape the daily’s correspondent. In reply to the question what forced them to join the rally, a group of people aged between 40-50 years answered “We simply had nothing to do and came!” Another group explained that their chief was a United Russia parliamentarian and they were ready “to go through fire and water for him.”
The rally demonstrated that people have a great deal to say not only against the December 4 parliamentary elections, but also in their support, Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted. In many respects President Dmitry Medvedev’s statement on Facebook, where he spoke about citizens’ right to express their own opinion on the election results, contributed to this. Yesterday Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said the reports on violations at the Duma elections spread on such a small number of ballot papers that they in no way will affect the election returns. “If we suppose that these cases will be considered in the court, they by no means will be able to influence the elections’ legitimacy and outcome.”
The rally on Manezhnaya Square demonstrates that the party can get use of its constitutional right and take people to streets in support of the candidate at the upcoming elections, explained Prof. Leonid Polyakov of the Higher School of Economics. “The State Duma elections gradually turned into the presidential campaign. Now every candidate will consider the results of the parliamentary elections as a launching pad,” he said underlining that in this case it is important not to remain in the past, endlessly discussing the results of the past elections. “It is important to formulate new intentions for the future, i.e. for the new elections.”