Thousands March in Pro-Putin Rally In Moscow

Posted February 23rd, 2012 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of supporters of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rallied in Moscow Thursday.

The pro-Putin crowd marched along the Moscow River before filing into nearby Luzhniki stadium to hear him speak.

The French news agency reported Mr. Putin told the gathering he would be victorious in the March 4 presidential elections, and after asking if he would be victorious, the crowd roared back, “yes.”

The march and rally was in response to several demonstrations against Mr. Putin, who is expected to win a third term as president next month.

The protests began in December after his United Russia party claimed victory in parliamentary elections, although with a reduced majority. But opposition groups and international observers claim that the vote was marred by violations, including ballot-stuffing, limited political competition and a lack of fairness.

Opposition leaders oversaw three days of protests following the December 4 vote.

Moscow responded by ordering 50,000 police and 2,000 paramilitary troops backed by water cannon. Many protesters were arrested.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called for a new vote and he said the results did not reflect the will of the people.