Several hundreds Russians gathered in central Moscow to protest and appeal for Vladimir Putin to quit. The authorities deployed riot police in the city, as protesters rallied against Putin in central Moscow.
The protest, called ‘We’re sick of him’, was organized by Open Russia movement, founded by notable Kremlin critic and business magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia, but was charged with fraud and spent a decade in jail. He was pardoned by Putin in 2013.
Putin has still not announced his candidacy in the 2018 Presidential election, though it is widely expected to do so. Putin began his third term in 2012, and previously served two terms from 2000 to 2008.
Protests in Moscow were rather small, but according to reports, the riot police arrested some 100 protesters in St. Petersburg. According to police, 250 people had showed up for protests in Moscow, while Maria Baronova, an Open Russia activist, said at least 500 people had handed over a petition for Putin to resign.
The authorities accused Open Russia and other organizations of trying to discredit the election. On Thursday, Russian police searched the offices of Open Russia’s Moscow branch. Activists said they confiscated 100,000 blank appeal forms which the foundation had hoped to hand out to people encouraging them to call for Putin to quit.
Last month, protesters had gathered in major cities across Russia to protest against government corruption and called Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to resign.
However, Putin continues to enjoy very high approval ratings. During his first two terms, Russian economy maintained growth, as the country recovered from disastrous decade that followed the collapse of USSR.
After the 2014 Ukraine crisis and annexation of Crimea, the West introduced sanctions against Russia. In 2014 and 2015, as a result of Western sanctions, as well as low oil and gas prices, Russian economy entered into a recession, but recovered slightly in 2016.
Photo: REUTERS/Anton Vaganov