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Election fraud protests in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk

Public rallies took place in cities across Russia on Saturday in what might have been the largest public protest in post-Soviet Russia. Anger continues to rise over the disputed parliamentary election and mistrust to Putin’s party United Russia. See photos from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

Coffin democracy and free elections.
Protester carrying a coffin with the text "Democracy" on the top and "Freedom of elections" on the side. Photo: Alexey Filin

Follow moods of Russia in the aftermath the Duma election here on BarentsObserver:

Russia without Putin” was one of the slogans when around 400 hundred protesters met in the park near the central square of Murmansk on Saturday afternoon. Nobody of the protesters believes last weekend’s State Duma elections were fair and free. Despite the anger, the protest in Murmansk was relaxed and peaceful, with only a couple of police groups keeping an eye on the demonstrators and making security checks on people waking in and out of the park.

Democracy in a Coffin
One young man was carrying a coffin painted with the text “Democracy” on the top and “Free elections” on its side. Many of the protesters hold banners supporting the Communist party or others of the opposition parties. The protest was organized by the local Murmansk branch of Russia's Communist party.

Many of the people that gathered downtown Murmansk stayed also after the officially approved demonstration was over and continued the protest Saturday evening. No conflicts with the police are reported.

Some few OMON police officers were overlooking the demonstration from distance. Photo: Alexey Filin

Many Russians believes the elections were rigged in favor of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia.

In Moscow, tens of thousands of people participated in the rallies against alleged electoral fraud. Similar demonstrations took place across Russia.

Protesters gathered in the park in central Murmansk on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Alexey Filin

Russia’s independent national election monitor watchdog Golos earlier this week presented a map that charts of election fraud reported by observers from 800 ballot stations in Russia.

In Barents Russia, the map shows that there are reported 59 violations in Murmansk region, 33 in Karelia, 28 in Arkhangelsk, 65 in the Komi Republic and one in Naryan-Mar.

Protesters holding slogans claiming the elections were a falsification. Photo: Alexey Filin

In Arkhangelsk, the largest city in the Barents Region, the demonstration didn’t turn out the way the city authorities wanted it. First set to be on the Lenin square, then the organizers were told to move it to the Trade Union square, but still, the people gathered at the initial place. So, when the people were told that they couldn’t have the protest at the Lenin square, the protest turned out to be a long demonstration walk across the entire city centre.

Protesters in Arkhangelsk had to walk through the enitre city centre towards another square.
Photo: Andrey Shalyov

More than 1,000 protesters participated in Arkhangelsk. Unlike in Murmansk, where many of the demonstrators were Grown-Ups, the majority of protesters in Arkhangelsk were young people, presumably students.

Authorites didn't wanted student protests
BarentsObserver is informed that some authorities in Arkhangelsk up-front of Saturday’s demonstration requested university officials to “do all possible measures to avoid that the students took part in the protest.” That message was obviously not passed on to the students.

The two opposition parties Yabloko and the Communists were in the centre of the events in Arkhangelsk giving speeches and claiming the elections were not fair. LDPR and Fair Russia were not visible in the demonstration.

More than 1.000 people participated in the protest in Arkhangelsk. Photo: Andrey Shalyov

"Putin - to the court"
Slogans among the protesters were “United Russia – to the garbage basket”, “Putin – to the court”, “Russia – without Putin” and “Power - to millions not to millionaires.”

Like in Murmansk, no incidents were reported, people behaved very peacefully and the police was also very correct and polite.

Arkhangelsk, Karelia, Murmansk and Nenets are among the Federal Districts in Russia where United Russia got fewest votes in Sunday’s parliamentary election. The party got just over 30 percent in the several of the northwestern Federal Districts, while it on national average got just under 50 percent.

Saturday's protests come three months before Putin is to seek a third term in office. Presidental election will be on March 4th.

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