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Two car rallies took place in Moscow last weekend, one in support of the presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin, and another one, “White Streets”, was organized by the prime minister’s opponents from "For Fair Elections" coalition. The first motor campaign was accompanied by lezghinka dance on Sakharov Avenue and violations of road traffic rules. Although only 150 vehicles participated in the second rally, according to official reports, the traffic got into a complete tangle because of the vehicles decorated with white ribbons. Police blocked streets to prevent vehicles from driving towards the Kremlin. According to the organizers, mass rallies in support of Putin brought together a total of 234,000 people in the Russian regions.
Participants in the youth movement Network of Putin’s Supporters staged a car rally in support of Putin on Moscow’s Sadovoye (Garden) Ring late on Saturday, Komsomolskaya Pravda daily writes. Initially the action was announced as a car rally, which was to take place on the Sadovoye Ring from 23:00 on Saturday till midnight, but the rally involved not only vehicles. Pedestrian participants came to support the drivers of the car rally forming a motorcade on Sakharov Avenue. They were not numerous, less than 100 people, but they decided to walk along the Sadovoye Ring.
It was planned that several dozen vehicles would drive along Sakharov Avenue playing the Blueberry Hill song, which Vladimir Putin sang at a concert of the Federation Foundation, Kommersant daily writes. However, elder participants from the People’s Front and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia joined the organized rally, and according to road police, late on Saturday about 2,000 vehicles (organizers claim there were 5,000) lined up in three rows on Sakharov Avenue. Police blocked traffic on the avenue helping rally's participants to line up, Kommersant writes. Organizers were running along the road, distributing stickers with the photo of Putin and Russian flags. Young people danced lezghinka on the road. There were many expensive foreign vehicles with Dagestani numberplates among the vehicles. Young ladies in bikini sat in a black car with the inscription "Three Times is Okay for a Real Man." Police blocked the Sadovoye Ring, so that the convoy could drive into it. At times the rally looked like a race without rules.
The car rally "For Fair Elections," held on Sunday on the inner ring road, had no assembly rallying point, Kommersant writes. Reaction of road police to that rally was absolutely different from that one of the pro-Putin rally. Police stopped cars to check drivers’ documents, and drivers were penalized for incorrect parking.
Traffic lights functioned in such a way that major traffic jams formed on the inner ring road. Sources from the Interior Ministry’s Main Department said 150 vehicles took part in the rally. Meanwhile, the organizers insist that 2,000 vehicles took part, and made caustic remarks, saying police counts vehicles the way the Central Election Commission counts votes at the elections.
Political actions were not limited only to car rallies,mass rallies in support of Vladimir Putin were held in the regions on Sunday, the newspaper writes. Practically everywhere they were traditionally organized by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia with participation of local branches of the All-Russia People’s Front. The United Russia party formally had nothing to do with the rallies. The local authorities were on the sidelines, and made no speeches. Staffers of different enterprises and budget sector workers made up the bulk of the rallies. In St. Petersburg, rallies brought together up to 60,000 people, while in Vladivostok about 4,000 took part. About 5,000 people took part in rallies in Novosibirsk where temperatures were minus 15 degrees Celsius. About 7,000 people rallied in Omsk, carrying banners Omsk Citizens for Putin, Fishermen for Putin and even The Tajik Community for Putin.