Some 120,000 people are expected to take to the streets in Moscow on Thursday in four separate demonstrations organized by supporters of Russian prime minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin and his opponents in the March 4 elections.
Some 10,000 police officers will be deployed to Moscow streets during the demonstrations, Moscow police said in a statement.
Putin supporters will march along the Frunzenskaya Embankment in central Moscow before gathering at Moscow’s Luzhniki Arena at 1 pm local time (09:00 GMT). The demonstration, which was authorized for 100,000 people, is expected to last until 2.30 pm (10:30 GMT).
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has not ruled out that the prime minister may address his supporters with a speech during the demonstration.
Members of Putin’s United Russia party are also expected to attend the rally, which was jointly organized by Putin’s election staff and his All-Russia People’s Front movement.
Another rally, organized by TV anchor Sergei Kurginyan, will take place on Thursday at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre in north-eastern Moscow. Its participants will protest against what they call “Orange threat” facing Russia, referring to the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, one of the so-called color uprisings that rocked former Soviet republics in the 2000s.
Kurginyan followers believe that the leaders of recent “For Fair Elections” protests in Russia are foreign-backed revolutionaries, who, according to Kurginyan, “don’t need honest elections any longer and will not recognize the results of the March 4 presidential polls in any case.”
Only 7,000 people were allowed to attend the rally, while some 13,500 have signed up on social networks to join it.
Putin’s competitors to stage rallies in downtown Moscow
Supporters of Russia’s Communists, whose leader Gennady Zyuganov will challenge Putin in the March 4 polls, will stage a demonstration on Moscow’s downtown Teatralnaya Square between 1.00 pm and 3 pm local time (09:00-11:00 GMT). The rally is expected to attract some 5,000 people.
Sergei Udaltsov, a Left Front movement leader who was among the organizers of “For Fair Elections” protests, said he was planning to join the demonstration. Earlier this month, he also said he was going to attend the pro-Putin rally at Luzhniki to “explain” his position to supporters of the prime minister.
Activists and supporters of the nationalist LDPR party will gather on Thursday on downtown Pushkinskaya Square at midday to support party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s presidential bid.
Zhirinovsky is expected to deliver a speech during the rally, which is planned to gather some 2,500 people.