Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thousands quietly protest in Moscow

MOSCOW — Prominent Russian novelists and poets led a street protest by more than 10,000 people in Moscow on Sunday without obtaining the required permit, and police did not intervene.

The demonstrators skirted the law by remaining silent and carrying no posters, even though the demonstration had clearly been organized as an anti-President Vladimir Putin rally.

The gathering was the latest of several impromptu protests that have taken place in Moscow since Putin's inauguration last week, held by people unhappy that he is the country's formal leader once again.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya, a bestselling author whose books have been translated internationally, lauded Moscow authorities for their restraint on Sunday. "Today's a significant day for the city," she said. "The Moscow government is being reasonable for the first time. It has realized that the protest movement is not about people who break shop windows and throw Molotov cocktails."

Police had detained hundreds of people who tried to get near Putin's cortege during the inauguration, some of whom were merely wearing white ribbons — a symbol of the Russian protest. Since then, activists have staged "flash mobs" across Moscow, suddenly assembling in public places where they camp and remain for the night. Many of them have been detained for taking part in an unsanctioned gathering.

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