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Russian Opposition Rallies in Moscow
May 6, 2013, 6:14 pm

Protestors held an image of Our Lady with her eyes shut. (Image- TBP)

Protestors held an image of Our Lady with her eyes shut [TBP]

Thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow joining a rally For Freedom to mark one year since an anti-Putin protest ended in violence and mass arrests.

Over 8,000 people joined the Russian opposition rally in downtown Moscow, according to Moscow police.

The organisers however say the number is at least twice as large – 15,000–20,000.

The demonstration demanded “Freedom for the May 6 prisoners” and asserted they were fighting for “ a new future”.

An accident at the venue today, hours prior to the rally, caused a stir among the demonstrators.

A 25-year old worker was accidentally crushed to death when a speaker fell on him while he was setting up the stage.

The organisers of the rally had to relocate to a different spot at Bolotnaya Square.

Russia has last year enacted legislation which requires NGOs receiving foreign aid to register as “foreign agents”.

President Vladimir Putin said in a recent interview that the number of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations operating in Russia amounted to 654.

He also said that these organisations received 28.3 billion rubles, or almost $1 billion, from their foreign sponsors in just four months that passed after the adoption of the Foreign Agents Law.

At today’s rally, demonstrators were holding banners calling on authorities to respect freedom of speech and freedom of expression – the two things they were not denied today.

Some protestors were holding a 10 metre balloon with an image of Our Lady with her eyes shut while some were seen selling t-shirts with protest slogans.

The rally, which went off peacefully, attracted not only Muscovites, but also people from the regions, who expressed their own problems in the capital.

The demonstration staged today on Bolotnaya Square were sanctioned by Moscow authorities.

The demonstration marks the first anniversary of the protest held here on May 6, 2012, on the eve of Putin’s inauguration.

About 600 protesters were arrested after clashing with the police then, although only two were sentenced to jail terms.

Daria Chernyshova

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