Russians Protest Alleged Voter Fraud

Posted December 10th, 2011 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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((update from 12/9), new grafs 1, 2)

Russians angered by parliamentary elections they deem fraudulent began a day of protests across the country Saturday in the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his ruling United Russia party.

The first protests Saturday began in the far east of the massive country. About 20 protesters were detained in the city of Khabarovsk.

Moscow authorities gave permission for 30,000 people to gather later in the day on a square across the river from the Kremlin.

The rallies follow a violent crackdown on a series of demonstrations earlier this week, after Mr. Putin's party won parliamentary elections Sunday.

The prime minister's party barely held onto the lower house, but opposition parties and observers contend the winning results were probably inflated.

Mr. Putin appears to be set to win the March election, which would return him to the president's office.

Thursday, he lashed out at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of her comments about the election and the protests. He accused Clinton of instigating protesters in order to weaken Russia.