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On Sunday Moscow hosted the last anti-Kremlin protest “Big White Ring” ahead of the presidential election on March 4. Thousands of people gathered holding hands along Moscow’s Garden Ring demanding fair elections.
Thirty minutes before the action started at 14:00 Moscow time groups of people with white ribbons gathered at the capital’s downtown highway. The flashmob was not widely advertized and it became unclear till the last moment how the Garden Ring can be “ringed” from a technical point of view, Moskovsky Komsomolets wrote.
Until the last day both the action’s organizers – the League of Voters, and opponents doubted the rally’s success, Kommersant business daily wrote. However, the action gathered much more people than expected. Organizers say from 22,000 to 26,000 people took to the streets, while police say the rally gathered 11,000.
Regional protests For Fair Election brought together much less people. The action in St. Petersburg gathered around 2,000 people. Unlike the Saturday rally that saw several famous opposition leaders, the action on Sunday was attended only by the chairman of Just Russia, Sergei Mironov.
Novye Izvestiya tried to find out whether protesters expect any result from their action and any response from the authorities. It turned out that they simply gathered to express their civil position and to be noticed by the authorities, i.e. not concrete results are essential, but civil protest in itself.
Young people who described themselves as Putin’s supporters tried to break off the hand-in-hand ring of protesters, the daily wrote. They denied any involvement in pro-Kremlin youth movements, although all of them were no more than 26-27 years old. They held banners saying “A week till Putin’s victory!” Protesters do not like the young people accusing them of venality. “Nobody paid us,” said 26-year-old Nikolai. “I came on my own initiative. We are here to announce that seven days are left until Putin’s victory. There are no doubts that he would win in the first round and those people with white ribbons should simply accept that the majority is for Putin.” From time to time debates between protesters and Putin’s supporters emerged, but there were no serious clashes.