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The opposition decided to refuse from the rallies, which were scheduled in Moscow on March 8 and March 9, and to focus on the preparations for a march due on March 10. Many people believe that the rally on Pushkin Square on Monday that was not as massive as before turned out to be a failure for its organizers, the protest movement entered in the times of crisis.
On Monday, after the official end to the For Fair Elections demonstration some civil activists did not want to leave the square, the RBC daily recalled. The police and the OMON special task force dispersed the mob by force and detained about 250 people, including oppositionists Ilya Yashin, Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov. The newspaper affirms with the reference to a source in the Moscow police that no special instructions were given to take tough actions against the oppositionists. “We faced the task to avert provocative acts and we coped with this task successfully. If the oppositionists had come home after the authorized part of the rally, no one from them would have been brought to the police stations and we would not have to use force once again,” he said.
The Kremlin took ambiguously the protests, which ended with the OMON special task force interference. Several leaders of the Bolotnaya Square protest action discredited themselves among the protesters, the RBC daily reported.
The opposition rally on Pushkin Square in Moscow turned out to be a failure for its organizers, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Not only political experts, but also Russian bloggers, who supported the For Fair Elections rallies before, noted this fact. The rally was not massive. Experts believe this fact shows that the protest moods are subsiding, and the opposition failed to formulate the topical agenda for the participants in the rallies on Bolotnaya Square and Sakharov Avenue.
For Fair Elections rallies gathered no more than 14,500 people, according to official police reports, whereas its organizers forecast much more people. It is noteworthy that a quite moderate numerical strength of the protest action became a surprise even for the Moscow authorities, the newspaper noted. The opposition rally was also not quite long. The participants in the rally began to go out right an hour after the start of the rally. Moreover, the observers witnessed that almost all of them recognized the results of the Russian presidential elections. The social networks already posted a video with Vladimir Ryzhkov, who asked the same question several times “Do you recognize the legitimacy of these elections?” and received the same answer all the time, “Yes, we do.”
A popular blogger and journalist Ilya Azar said with regret that the atmosphere at the rally changed, “The rally differed greatly from that on the Bolotnaya Square,” Azar concluded and stated with regret that the organizers and the participants in the rally lacked creative activities. Other users of social networks also noticed the lack of creative activities.
Observers also noted that the radical activists of all stripes prevailed on the Pushkin Square. The head of the Centre for Elite Studies of the Institute of Sociology at the Russian Academy of Sciences Olga Kryshtanovskaya believes that the rally on the Pushkin Square did not look like the previous protest actions on the Bolotnaya Square and the Sakharov Avenue, but resembled more of already forgotten actions dubbed Strategy-31, “The previous actions were fair. Meanwhile, the action on the Pushkin Square was dark and sombre with the leaders, who are ready to commit provocative acts. Radical activists and well-trained saboteurs went out to the streets.”
The rally began quite peacefully and grew into confrontation quickly. The opposition leaders Sergei Udaltsov and Ilya Ponomarev, who appealed from the rostrum to hold an indefinite protest action, got into the snow-covered fountain after the rally. Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin joined them later. Meanwhile, the group of activists began an unauthorized march in the Tverskaya Street. As a result about 200 activists, including the leaders were detained.
The users of the social networks found the detentions of the protesters by the OMON special task police force lawful, “The yesterday’s senseless fight on Pushkin Square resulted from the mistakes made by the opposition and points to the protest movement (in the way it exists now) to enter in a crisis,” an Internet user said.