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Tens of thousands of Russian protesters want Vladimir Putin out

Russian activists in Moscow escalate their protests against Vladimir Putin despite promises of reform from him and Dmitry Medvedev after the disputed parliamentary elections.

December 24, 2011|By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times

Navalny promised 1 million protesters at future rallies, which he said would continue until the Kremlin gives in to the demands of the movement, including the immediate release of all political prisoners and the voiding of the tainted election results. Opposition leaders also called for new elections and said Putin should not receive a single vote in the March voting.

Participant Vladimir Mikhailov, 47, a medical equipment company director from northern Russia, said he was overwhelmed by the size of the rally in Moscow.

"I am so happy to see so many people here who are not afraid to come and protest against lawlessness and corruption," said Mikhailov, who dropped his United Russia membership just before the parliament vote.

"Being here makes me 20 years younger as we witness such tremendous change in social and political awareness compared with what we saw over the last two decades," said Russian democratic movement veteran Viktor Sheinis. "It will really be a cold shower and a huge loss for the country if this movement doesn't achieve anything soon and its tremendous drive and enthusiasm is eventually wasted."

"That," said Sheinis, coauthor of the 1993 Russian Constitution, "is what the authorities are counting on."

PHOTOS: Thousands protest in Moscow

sergei.loiko@latimes.com

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