Anti-Putin protesters have upped the ante in their peaceful confrontation with authorities when about 10,000 marched in central Moscow on Sunday in an unsanctioned demonstration.
Popular Russian novelists and actors led what they described a “stroll” along Boulevard Ring road to assert people’s rights to gather and walkout without permission from authorities. Police, who had detained hundreds of protesters last week, this time took no action. Demonstrators carried no posters and did not chant any slogans to avoid provoking police. Many though were wearing white ribbons, the symbol of the new protest movement against Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency.
Sunday’s “stroll” made history as it is for the first time that a mass anti-government demonstration was not broken up by police.
“It seems that we can now take to the streets on the 13th of each month without fearing police backlash,” joked best-selling novelist Boris Akunin addressing his fans. “Anyway, we authors are prepared to act as ice-breakers for protesters in confronting police.”
People walked about two kilometres from a monument to Alexander Pushkin to a monument to Alexander Griboyedov, another 19th iconic Russian author. After the stroll was declared over, hundreds joined other protesters camped on a boulevard at a monument to a Kazakh poet. A round-the-clock sit-in staged at the monument for the past few days has been called “Occupy Abai” after the Kazakh poet and has clearly taken a page from the global Occupy movement. Police so far has not attempted to clear the place, but federal television channels have been showing angry residents protesting the presence of hundreds of young people in the area.