Members of the opposition, headed by activists Sergei Udaltsov and Boris Nemtsov, voted at Saturday's rally in Moscow downtown for staging a protest called "March of the millions" on May 6 before the inauguration of president-elect Vladimir Putin.
Supporters of Udaltsov and entrepreneur Alexei Kozlov as well as protesters against a pro-Kremlin documentary alleging Russians were paid to attend recent vote fraud rallies gathered on central Pushkinskaya Square on 2 pm Moscow time (10:00 GMT) to hold the rally in the format of the meeting with State Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov.
Such format does not require approval of the city government but forbids any posters and slogans. The protest was attended by several dozens of people and at least two, who came with posters, were detained.
Many opposition supporters held clean white sheets of A4 format which they considered as a symbol of protest alike white ribbons.
Udaltsov said that the exact time and place of the "march" would be determined later. The protestor also urged citizens to invite their friends and relatives from other cities to participate in May's protest and suggested gathering at the square every Saturday for authorized or unauthorized rallies.
Udaltsov, a leader of the Left Front opposition movement, was arrested in central Moscow last Thursday over his attempt to organize an unsanctioned demonstration following a post-election opposition rally on the Novy Arbat street. He was initially sentenced to 10 days in jail; however, on Friday, a Moscow court overturned the ruling, replacing it with a $30 fine.
Kozlov, whose case was championed by protesters at recent opposition rallies, was sentenced to five years in prison for fraud on Thursday. The 38-year-old entrepreneur is accused of stealing shares of a leather production company through a fraudulent scheme in 2006.
In 2009, the businessman was given seven years behind bars and has already served half of his sentence. A public campaign organized by his wife, journalist Olga Romanova, ended with the Supreme Court ordering a retrial last September.
Protest against TV
Other opposition activist Nemtsov called for boycotting the state-controlled NTV channel which showed the anti-opposition documentary on Thursday. The 36-minute video, called “Anatomy of a Protest,” suggests that participants in recent anti-Putin demonstrations were paid to attend the rallies.
"If one or two million people do not watch NTV, the TV channel will face losses. I have already created a Facebook page named 'I don’t watch NTV'," Nemtsov said, adding that the channel's reputation was seriously damaged by this video.
Gennady Gudkov's son Dmitry, participated in the rally, said that a new public TV, scheduled to be established soon, should show a "qualitative content" which could set off such kind of documentaries.
"We could finance such TV channel ourselves. [We] can club together with [$30] and buy the freedom of speech," Dmitry Gudkov said.
As for the other Saturday's protests, the Moscow city police detained over 20 people who tried to hold an unauthorized rally on center Ploshad Revolutsii square to support environmentalists from the country's south.
"Green" Suren Gazaryan and Yevgenia Vitishko from the Krasnodar region were served by charges on intentional damage to property committed from hooligan prompting on early March with the maximum penalty for this item at up to five years in prison.
According to investigators, environmentalists inscribed outrages on a metal fence in the forest around the residence of regional governor Alexander Tkachyov. Gazaryan alleges that builders illegally occupied part of the forest and cut down pines from the Red Book to construct the house.
Press service of the liberal Yabloko party told RIA Novosti that several activists of the party were detained during the rally for Gazaryan support.
The few opposition rallies were also held on Saturday in some cities of the central Russia, including Yaroslavl, Tula and Ivanovo.
The Communists, who staged the protests in the regions, assessed the legitimacy of the presidential elections and traditionally demanded the resignation of the Central Election Commission head Vladimir Churov. They also declared their intention to continue the "struggle" for fair polls on the regional and municipal elections.