Golos (which means “Voices”), an independent Russian election-observation group, put out the statement that the United Russia party had obtained it’s goals by fraud, and citizens are demanding that the government hold new elections, a called echoed by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
In Moscow the official police count was 25,000 but the turnout was visibly much larger than the official estimates. Protest organizers put the figure as high as 150,000 and claimed that officials have downplayed the true number of citizen protesters.
Some 53,000 police officers and special Russian riot troops were deployed in the capital city but police in most cases made no moves against protesters in many cases. Official estimates of the protest in Saint Petersburg was 7,000 protesters, but again the actual number was likely much higher than officials have reported.
Protesters across the country included both new and older voters. Although the state controlled media has tried to downplay the significance of the protests, Saturday’s events across the country were too large to ignore.
Russian authorities claim that the protests are illegal because local governments have denied applications by opposition groups for public gatherings.