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Russia rocked by new mass anti-Putin rally

world Updated: Dec 25, 2011 18:51 IST
AFP
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Russia on Sunday came to terms with its second mass opposition rally within a month which was even bigger and more sharply critical of strongman Vladimir Putin than the first such protest two weeks ago.

Organisers said 120,000 people attended the extraordinary rally in central Moscow on Saturday where protesters chanted slogans against Putin and called for the annulment of disputed December elections won by his party.

Police put the numbers at 29,000 but AFP correspondents said the turnout was clearly bigger than the first rally two weeks ago which smashed the taboo in Russia against mass opposition protests.

The last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also dramatically called on Putin to quit, just as he had done on December 25, 1991 when the USSR collapsed exactly two decades ago,

"This is not an outburst which will die down. This is not about the protests but about the mood," Yevgeny Gontmakher, head of the Centre for Social Policies at the Moscow-based Economics Institute, said.

"There is a danger of a revolution. Authorities are making concessions but are not keeping up with the development of the events."

Russia's state television took the surprise decision to cover the rally hinting at an easing of a long-held taboo against direct criticism of Putin, who came to power 12 years ago and wants to stay at the helm until 2024.

"Sharply negative appraisals of Vladimir Putin have been voiced several times," said a report about the rally broadcast on the Channel One last night.