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Pro and anti government rallies held in Moscow

A series of pro and anti government rallies have been held in the Russian capital on the last weekend before parliamentary elections. Security was tight as thousands of people descended on the city on Saturday. Authorities have given the green light for 2

Thousands of activists turned out in central Moscow to support the President Putin's policies. They included the pro-Kremlin youth movements Nashi, the Young Guard, and The Locals.

Elsewhere in the city, opposition supporters staged demonstrations against the Kremlin. 

They waved flags in support of  the “Union of Right Forces” and the “Other Russia”. The latter is a coalition made up of former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov’s United Civil Front and the National Bolsheviks led by Eduard Limonov. 

Against Putin

‘Against Putin’ is a traditional slogan for the radical opposition, although it’s not supported by the majority of Russians – polls say he is by far the most popular politician in the country.

Local authorities gave permission for rally, but not for the march. But the organisers said they would go further and rounded off at the building Central Election Committee. Some of the National Bolsheviks and activists of Kasparov’s movement broke the police cordon. With torches and flags they surged onto the streets right through moving traffic. They were soon met by riot police and asked to move to the pavement as they were blocking the road to transport.

Several people were detained along with Garry Kasparov who was led to the police bus, surrounded by his bodyguards and a circle of officers.

The opposition movement features a range of controversial groups, such as the National Bolsheviks, who are forbidden in Russia for nationalistic views and extremist activities.

President’s young supporters

‘For Russia and For Putin’ is the call of the Nashi movement. Their call is to support the President and hit the right number in the election ballot on December 2.

Similar posters were seen in the crowd of “the Locals,” a Moscow Youth movement.

Activists of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi voiced their opinion of the opposition – they called it ‘farcical’.

“Of course, it’s essential for any democracy to have a voice of alternative. And we have parties like that, completely legitimate. But the people marching today aren’t constructive,” said Nikita Borovikov, a Nashi commissar.

He added that his movement thinks those people marching against the President on Saturday don’t offer anything in return and think that ‘if we get rid of the President everything will just magically sort itself out.’

Expert's views

Political analyst Sergey Markov says the aim of the opposition marches is to discredit the upcoming election.

“Putin's opponents don’t have a candidate or a party that have a realistic chance of winning,” he said.

Markov says with Putin and United Russia certain to sweep the board on polling day, the opposition is forced to use other tactics.

“Their only goal is to cause a disturbance and provoke riot police to take action against them, so they can show it on TV and tell everybody, ”Look, Putin suppresses his opponents'," he said.

He added that the dissenters are supported by a fraction of 1% of the population.