Members of the “real” opposition held single-picket protests on Boulevard Ring road — the only legal form of protest when an official permit has been denied.
The police presence at both events was visible but far less intimidating than in weeks past.
The communist rally included both a flag with a large portrait of Joseph Stalin on it and signs calling for “honest” elections. It began with a song about the Soviet victory of 1945 over the Nazis, followed by a yearning ode to Stalin.
Gennady Zyuganov, the longtime Communist Party leader, called on Muscovites to vote out United Russia’s candidates and attacked corruption and police violence. But he also accused the liberals of being under the sway of foreign governments.
“There is a choice today, the choice in favor of the national-patriotic forces. Everything is ready, we only need a shared will, joint action and an organized electoral campaign,” he said. “Thank you for your will, your wish to restore the Soviet Union in a new form, the form of friendship and fraternity of the people, your loyalty to socialism and justice.”
Delegations attended from Tula, Tambov, and Smolensk, from Klin, Kostroma, Kaluga and Kursk. The most striking flag was that of the Lenin State Farm, which depicts a luscious strawberry on a blue field. A group called For a New Socialism flew a red flag featuring a seagull flying along golden rays toward a golden sun.
One long banner held by a half-dozen protesters read: “The medicine for dishonest elections: SOCIALIST REVOLUTION.” Groups from the Interregional Public Transportation Workers Union and the All-Russian Women’s Union-Hope of Russia participated.
The communist gathering drew the disdain of the opposition groups that have been protesting since July. They see the Communist Party as a tame outlet operating with the approval of the Kremlin. They stayed away from the rally site but set up single pickets at monuments that punctuate the shady Boulevard Ring.
Most carried signs calling for the release of those who were arrested following earlier protests. Yelena Rusakova, who has been stricken from the ballot and has been one of the organizers of the continuing protests, held up a sign saying, “Follow Our Constitution.”
One silent man held up a blank sheet of paper.