Christmas Day protest planned for Moscow

Protest organizers in Moscow say that over 40,000 have signed up on various social media sites for another day of protest in Russia, this one for tomorrow, the 7th of January, Christmas day. Speakers will include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Mr Gorbachev, now 80, has been critical of the elections, but had not appeared at any of the protests although he did address the crowd on 24 December from the studios of Moscow’s radio Echo, a popular independent talk radio station.

Opposition leaders dismiss promises from the Medvedev administration promising changes for the future, although one gets the feeling that if Medvedev’s proposals had target dates for achieving those goals, the opposition just might begin to listen.

On 25 December a judge ordered Sergei Udaltsov back to jail. Udaltsov is the leader of the Left Front socialist party and a frequent protester against the government. You can view that here:

The 24 December protest led to approximately 60 arrests but even with those the overall police response to the series of public protests, which began immediately after the Duma parliamentary elections on 4 December, has been surprisingly low-key. Frankly, and especially under the Putin years, it was far more common for police to react far more aggressively and with violent force to citizen protests.

The lack of a violent crackdown is a testament to the leadership of President Dmitry Medvedev as opposed to what Russians had come to expect in police operations under Vladimir Putin. We can only hope that this trend will continue.

Police had originally claimed that only 20 to 40 thousand had attended the 24 December event but entry was controlled by police checkpoints with metal detectors and now officials have been forced to admit that well over 80,000 persons were in attendance.