Demonstrators take to the streets in cities across Russia, accusing Putin’s political party, United Russia, of rigging the parliamentary elections in their favor. If you haven’t been following the news, here is a quick run down of recent events.
The gist of it
United Russia’s popularity has been on the decline in recent years, as it began to be associated by the public with continued corruption in “Putin’s Russia”. United Russia won in the parliamentary (the Duma) elections last week, but international observers as well as protesters have accused them of election fraud. Demonstrations reached a frenzied point in Moscow on Saturday, as tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in unsanctioned rallies insisting on a re-run.
What does Putin have to say to allegations of election fraud? That United Russia won fair and square, of course. So where are all of these demonstrators coming from? Putin accuses Hillary Clinton of giving “the signal” to opposition leaders to begin working against United Russia.
Over 300 arrests were made last Monday, and 250 more on Saturday, picking up demonstration organizers and opposition leaders in their homes as well as on the streets. Convicted of “obstructing the course of justice“, those arrested will serve 15-day jail sentences.
What’s the big deal?
Historically, protests in Russia generally don’t end well. For that reason, most people stay in their homes and avoid the streets for fear of being beaten by riot police, sent to jail, or killed. Large and relatively peaceful demonstrations like the ones that have been going on this week herald a radical change in this attitude.