Up to 10,000 'strollers' stage protest in Moscow city centre


MOSCOW – About 10,000 people staged a mass “stroll” through central Moscow yesterday to test the state’s tolerance a week after police beat and scattered demonstrators upset over Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency.

With few police in evidence, demonstrators gathered at a statue of revered poet Alexander Pushkin and walked down Moscow’s Boulevard Ring to the site of an Occupy-style, 24-hour protest two kilometres (1¼ miles) away.

Police took no action.

“We are all here because we want justice in the country. We want an honest transition of power; we don’t want a throne succession,” said Nina (45) a foreign language teacher who gave only her first name.

Some 10,000 people turned out for the “test stroll”, some wearing white ribbons reading “Russia without Putin”.

It took place a week after police clashed with demonstrators on the eve of Putins May 7 inauguration, beating some on the head with batons in the worst violence since a series of protests started in December.

Two opposition leaders detained last week, Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, are serving 15-day jail terms.

Following the crackdown, Boris Akunin, a popular detective novelist who has become a Kremlin critic, called for the event on Sunday to test whether Muscovites would be allowed to peacefully walk in their city. – (Reuters)