On Thursday four candidates for Russia’s presidency held their final street rallies ahead of the March 4 election. The rally in support of the presidential hopeful Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium was the biggest one, bringing together over 100,000 people.
The Kommersant daily quoted its organizers as saying that participants arrived from 80 regions. Reporters had no opportunity to speak with the participants of the rally, because on hearing the word “reporter” they simply turned away. “They gave me a banner and I am holding it,” was another popular reply.
People from all corners of our vast Fatherland arrived to Moscow to demonstrate how big support for the candidate is, Novye Izvestia said. In particular, a Nizhny Novghorod-Moscow night train brought four trailing cars full of men – workers of local state institutions and plants. Each had a box lunch for the day of the rally packed in paper bags of the Russian Railways Company. According to a reporter of Novye Izvestia, most of these men looked modest and laconic”. They did not want to discuss the upcoming rally and had no idea where it would be held. However, it was not necessary to know the venue, as yellow school buses with the inscription of “We Vote for Putin” on the windscreen lined up at the railway station to bring them to the site.
There were indeed a lot of people not only on the stands but on the field itself, there were a lot of flags and banners, Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. Banners at the pro-Putin rally were printed and not handwritten like at opposition protests. Besides, they were not particularly creative. “Vladimir – Means Victory” written in Roman letters was the most sophisticated among them.
“We want much – a lot of children, health and good education,” the newspaper quoted Putin as saying. “But we will not let anyone impose their will on us. We must not only look at the upcoming election, but at the future as well. We still have poverty, bribery, social inequality. However, every person should hope for happiness. The most important for us, the people, is to be together. We urge everyone to unite for the sake of the country. And we also ask you not to betray the Fatherland,” Putin stressed.
Komsomolskaya Pravda notes that a meeting in support of Liberal Democratic candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky was held at the same time on Thursday. A total of 3,000 people got together in Moscow’s central Pushkin Square. The Liberal Democratic Party leader had a new image this time with a grey Cossack hat and colonel shoulder straps.
The newspaper writes that Communists rallied to support their candidate in central Theatralnaya Square. Out of principle they called February 23 (Fatherland Defenders Day) in an old-fashioned manner - Soviet Army Day, much to the delight of participants. There were less than 3,000 people at the rally. However, there were enough red flags, as well as industrious pensioners who were selling badges with the Soviet symbols and USSR-era coins.