The protesters are an unlikely coalition of liberals, Communists, nationalists and radicals. But liberals are tiring of what they consider nationalist rants. Radicals want more confrontation than others support. Several protesters said each group needs to find leaders who will speak to them, while maintaining a solid front for change.
The movement will have to split apart into logical constituencies, Ilya Ponomaryov, a social democrat member of parliament and protest leader, said in an earlier interview. But it also needs to find a unifying candidate for presidential elections.
“We have to create an alternative to Putin,” he said. “But the problem is media access.”
The differing approaches were soon evident Saturday.
Sergei Udaltsov, leader of the socialist Left Front who said he wants to plan a million-person march before Putin’s May 7 inauguration, led a line of his supporters away from the rally toward Pushkin Square. Udaltsov, who was arrested after Monday’s protest, was detained Saturday for organizing a provocation and later released with a court date. About 50 nationalists were arrested as they marched along the nearby Stary Arbat.
In St. Petersburg, police detained about 60 people for trying to gather without a permit, and about 50 people were detained in Nizhny Novgorod on the same grounds.
“Everyone here is very different,” said Yevgeny Kagan, 53. “I don’t have much in common with the Communist or leftist parties. What’s worse, we don’t have the possibility of normal elections.”
The people who could speak for him, he said, have not been allowed on the ballot.
“What we need is our right for normal elections,” he said, “and if I knew how to accomplish that, I’d be up on stage with them.”