Moscow surrounded: Holding hands ‘for fair elections’ (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
The number of the opposition activists reached up to 11,000 people, according to police. Earlier, flash mob organizers insisted that 34,000 people would be required for the ring to be completed.
The people, many of whom were wearing protest white ribbons, were standing all along the Garden Ring. Some were waving white scarves and holding white umbrellas. A police helicopter was hovering above the scene. No one was arrested during the flash mob, nor were any incidents of blocking the traffic observed.
The protesters have taken to the streets to support fair, honest and transparent elections in Russia in anticipation of the presidential poll due on March 4.
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Photo by Aleksey Usachev (from ridus.ru)
RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich
RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev
Thousands of drivers also supported those gathered for the flash mob with a spontaneous auto race along the Garden Ring. Some cars were decorated with white ribbons, and the passengers were waving flags and balloons.
RIA Novosti / Maria Vashuk
At some spots, pro-Putin’s youths were trying to join the line, holding cardboard red hearts saying “Putin loves everybody”. Some of them stood separately, forming parallel lines, distributing cardboard hearts and ribbons in Russian flag colours.
The flash mob started at 2 pm Moscow time (10:00 GMT). The action was not coordinated by any particular group and came from within the community, said Sergey Parkhomenko, who organized recent protests for fair elections in Moscow.
“People are the main initiators, as much as it was with the event White Ring,” he said. “Such events are good because they have neither beginning nor ending, neither head or tail, neither organizers nor sponsors. They depend on people who decide to gather.”
The Moscow mayor’s office said that the flash mob did not need to be coordinated with the city authorities. However, the participants were warned not to disrupt city traffic.
The flash mob was supposed to continue for an hour, from 2 to 3pm local time, braving the subzero temperatures and snow. After the hands of the first and the last person linked, completing the ring, people, as witnesses reported, stood for another 20 minutes before they started to disperse.
After the ring closed up some estimated 200 people of opposed activists went to join another event in central Moscow, at Revolution Square, where they tried to hold unsanctioned rally, dubbed “Seeing off political winter”. They were chanting slogans and dancing in a ring. According to the police some of the activists tried to initiate a brawl with other activists from different parties. About 10 people were arrested as police officers took preventative measures.