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An unsanctioned opposition meeting timed to mark the first anniversary of the beginning of mass protest actions For Fair Elections was held on Wednesday at Moscow’s Chistye Prudy. Its participants carried no posters, they just recollected how it all had started. This time only several hundred people participated.
A year ago the first protest rally against unfair elections to the State Duma lower house of parliament was held, the Novye Izvestia daily writes. The events came thick and fast – every new meeting propelled more and more citizens on to the streets, and according to some assessments, about 120,000 people got together in Sakharov Avenue on December 24, 2011. This was followed by several rallies on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, “sit-ins”, “marches of millions” and “control strolls”. Many rallies ended with detentions and the institution of criminal proceedings. However, activists continue taking to the streets and demanding fair elections, independent courts and the release of political prisoners.
On December 5, 2011, over 10,000 people got together at the Monument to Alexander Griboyedov (Chistye Prudy), and the sanctioned meeting ended with mass detentions, but this time the rally brought together only several hundred protesters, the Kommersant daily stressed. Oppositionists say this is because “people have got tired of street rallies” and maintain that the Freedom March on December 15 will draw many more participants.
As of 21:00 Moscow time on Wednesday, there were about 300 people at the Monument to Griboyedov. “This is the way we have funeral feasts,” an elderly participant in the rally grumbled.
However, opposition leaders don’t consider the insignificant number of protesters at yesterday’s action an alarming signal. “Memorial actions never enjoy success, and this is not an indicator of the scale for other events,” member of the Solidarity movement Sergei Davidis told the Kommersant. Davidis is in the organizing committee of the Freedom March scheduled for December 15.
Oppositionists intend to march through the centre of the city and end it in central Lubyanka Square. “Most likely the march will draw several dozen thousand people, but the figures will hardly be record ones. People are indeed tired of the format of street actions and of the fact that these protests have hardly changed anything over the past year,” Davidis said.