Thousands protested against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his party Monday night in Moscow and St. Petersburg, saying their win in the parliamentary election was rigged.
The Associated Press reports that the protest was the largest opposition rally Russia has seen in years, with 5,000 or more demonstrators gathered before police dispersed them. Riot police stopped a group of several hundred who marched toward the Central Elections Commission near the Kremlin, and took them away in buses. Several others were arrested. Many demonstrators yelled, “Russia without Putin!”
Western observers have reported that the results in Sunday’s parliamentary election, in which United Russia took about 50 percent of the vote, were seriously distorted by ballot stuffing and other vote fraud. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for a “full investigation of all credible reports of electoral fraud and manipulation.” While United Russia will continue to stay in power, the election results and ensuing protests indicate the first major threat to Putin’s party.
Below, see more images of the protests:
Photos of the election: