Troops Patrol Moscow to Prevent Election Protests
Russian troops patrolled central Moscow Tuesday in an effort to deter more protests, a day after thousands of demonstrators gathered to denounce an election they say was fraudulent.
Thousands of police and Interior Ministry troops were deployed after protesters planned several rallies in Moscow.
In Lithuania, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again raised “serious concerns” about Sunday's parliamentary polls in which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party won with a reduced legislative majority.
“We've just witnessed a flawed Duma election in Russia, including efforts to halt the election monitoring by Golos, a respected independent civil society organization and Golos' work is exactly the type of activities that countries committed to the rule of law should welcome and countries that are members of the OSCE signed up to support.”
She also said the election was neither free nor fair, in comments in Vilnius to the election-monitoring Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Sunday's vote has been marred by accusations of ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has insisted the elections were “fair, honest and democratic.”
In other news, a Russian court on Tuesday sentenced a top anti-corruption blogger, Alexei Navalny, to 15 days in jail for taking part in a protest Monday against the election. Earlier in the day, the same court handed a 15-day prison sentence to Ilya Yashin, one of the organizers of Monday's protest.
Russian authorities continue to hold at least 250 opposition protesters detained on Monday in Moscow. Up to 120 people were arrested Tuesday at a similar rally in St. Petersburg.
Late Monday, Russian police moved against several thousand demonstrators who gathered under pouring rain to denounce the election, chanting “Russia without Putin.” The protesters sought to march toward the Kremlin, in one of the biggest rallies in the Russian capital in years.
OSCE election monitors have reported many violations of election rules favoring Mr. Putin's United Russia party. United Russia — which has dominated Russian politics for more than a decade — took about 50 percent of the vote and now holds a slim majority in the State Duma, or the lower house.
The Communists, along with the nationalist Liberal Democrats and Just Russia — a social democratic party — all made strong gains, meaning United Russia will be forced to work with the newly empowered opposition.
If he regains the presidency, the 59-year-old Mr. Putin could serve two more six-year terms and remain in power until 2024. He was first elected president in 2000.
Article by VOA News