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An opposition “March against Scoundrels” was held in Moscow on Sunday to protest against the ban on adoptions of Russian children to U.S. foster families. Surprisingly, the march drew from 20,000 to 50,000 participants, according to various estimates. For the first time in the past six months, the opposition managed to enroll so many supporters. The city police however put the number of participants at 9,500. The march was held in a rather quiet atmosphere, with no clashes with the police.
The opposition says the action was such a success because they had changed the format: a purely general civil action was dedicated to a most debated subject. Meanwhile, the Kremlin says it “shares people’s worries about parentless children,” but no one is going to revoke the law.
As soon as protesters passed walk-through metal detectors, the first thing to catch their eyes was an enormous heap of posters on the ground. The posters featured portraits of lawmakers from the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, writes the Kommersant newspaper. This way the organizers of the action named all those who voted in December 2012 in favor of the bill banning adoptions of Russian children by American families.
According to representatives from the Opposition Coordination Council, the March against Scoundrels was planned as the first-ever general action with no political tinge. True, there were practically no party logos or emblems at the March against Scoundrels. The majority of participants were people from the so-called middle class affiliated with no parties or movements.
Some participants in the action say it drew 50,000 people, some even say there were up to 100,000 participants, writes the RBC daily. It was not that easy to count the exact number of participants – people just joined the action to march along the traditional route from Pushkinskaya Square to Sakharov Avenue and dropped it, to take metro or to go to a caf·. No rally was planned. People were asked to fill in ballot papers demanding the dissolution of the State Duma and the cancellation of the “Herod law.” The bulk of the participants associated themselves with no parties, although liberal opposition parties – Yabloko, RPR-PARNAS, Solidarity, Party of the Fifth December – were also present. More to it, there was a small column of anarchists. This time, there were practically no leftists or nationalists.
The main thing that distinguished yesterday’s action from the September March of Millions was the fact that it demonstrated absolutely different attitudes, writes the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. Despite the biting frost, people were enthusiastic and optimistic. From time to time, the people chanted all together “Shame.” Participants expressed their indignation at the adoptions ban and tossed portraits of its initiators into wastebaskets placed specifically for these purposes. Unflattering words were spoken about President Vladimir Putin as well – people accused him of couldn't-care-less attitude towards children.
Vice President of the Centre for Political Technologies Rostislav Turovsky expects that still more people might take part in unauthorized actions in spring, when general slogans are supplements with growing discontent over economic problems.
The Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily publishes a commentary of Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. “People who express concern in connection with the fate of orphans are absolutely right. However, they cannot but hear and see the clearly stated intention of the country leadership, and President Putin in particular, to take a set of additional measures to improve the situation and provide the orphans with everything necessary, to simplify and make more orderly the process of adoptions inside the country,” he stressed.