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Russian Election Protests

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Over the past week, tens of thousands of Russians, decrying the recent parliamentary election results, attended some of the largest protests since the fall of the USSR 20 years ago. Communists, nationalists, and liberals marched in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities, shouting down Vladimir Putin and the ruling United Russia Party. They carried signs, calling for the election results to be nullified and alleged vote-rigging to be investigated. Protesters clashed with riot police and over a thousand were arrested, including noted anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny. The largest demonstration, coordinated on Facebook, was in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square. Organizers have announced another mass protest, scheduled for December 24, which they claim will be twice as large. (See also Vladimir Putin, Action Man, from September.) [37 photos]

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A Russian police officer detain an opposition activist during a protest against vote rigging in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 4, 2011. Russians cast their ballots with muted enthusiasm in parliamentary elections Sunday. Rival parties and election monitors, which have suffered from government crackdowns, alleged significant violations at the polls. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A Russian police officer detain an opposition activist during a protest against vote rigging in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 4, 2011. Russians cast their ballots with muted enthusiasm in parliamentary elections Sunday. Rival parties and election monitors, which have suffered from government crackdowns, alleged significant violations at the polls. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Anarchists burn flares, shout and carry a banner in central Moscow, late on December 4, 2011, during their protest against the conduct of Russia's parliamentary elections. The banner reads very rudely in Russian: "You were cheated!" Russians voted in elections set to see Vladimir Putin's ruling party win a reduced majority in parliament, amid claims the authorities were engaging in foul play to ensure it maintained dominance. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images) #
Russian Communists Party supporters hold flags with the color and emblem of the Communist Party gather together to protest against official results of the parliaments elections in Moscow, Russia, on December 5, 2011, with a Christmas tree in the background. The Communist Party appeared to benefit most from the protest vote, getting nearly 20 percent, up from less than 12 percent four years ago. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) #
Participants shout and play musical instruments during an opposition protest in central Moscow, on December 5, 2011. Several thousand people protested in central Moscow on Monday against what they said was a fraudulent parliamentary election, shouting "Revolution!" and calling for an end to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's rule. (Reuters/Anton Golubev) #
Red lights of police cars are reflected on the wet asphalt where police officers block the road after a political rally in downtown Moscow, on December 5, 2011. Several thousand people protested in Moscow against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his party, which won the largest share of a parliamentary election that observers said was rigged. A group of several hundred then marched toward the Central Elections Commission near the Kremlin, but were stopped by riot police and taken away in buses. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) #
Participants hold placards during an opposition protest in central Moscow, on December 5, 2011. The placards read "Putin in prison" (left) and "Begone United Russia, return our unfair elections". (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
A protester tries to free himself as police officers detain opposition activists during a protest against vote rigging in St.Petersburg, Russia, on December 5, 2011. Security was tight in central St.Petersburg with police trucks parked in some areas. Police said they arrested more than 100 protesters who tried to stage an unsanctioned rally in Moscow and about 70 others in St. Petersburg. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) #
A riot policeman detains an opposition supporter during a rally in central Moscow, on December 5, 2011. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images) #
Riot policemen walk in a street during an opposition rally in central Moscow, on December 5, 2011. Thousands of Russians rallied in central Moscow and St. Petersburg protesting against violations in legislative elections that handed victory to Vladimir Putin's ruling party with a reduced majority. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images) #
Opposition demonstrators walk along a main thoroughfare during protests against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze) #
Opposition activists, left, and members of pro-Kremlin youth movements scuffle during demonstrations in Triumphal Square in Moscow, on Tuesday, December 6, 2011. Police clashed in a central Moscow square with demonstrators trying to hold a second day of protests against alleged vote fraud in Russia's parliamentary elections. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) #
A member of the Russian Interior Ministry troops detains a participant during a rally organized on social networks against the results of the parliamentary elections in St. Petersburg, on December 6, 2011. Opposition leaders defied the Russian authorities on Tuesday by organizing a second mass protest in two days against Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule, despite warnings of a police crackdown and the jailing of one of the organizers. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
Policemen detain an activist during a rally to protest against the results of the parliamentary elections and the policies conducted by Russian authorities in Moscow, on December 6, 2011. Russians took to the streets of Moscow for the second successive day on Tuesday to demand an end to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule, but riot police blocked their way and hundreds of pro-Kremlin youths tried to spoil the protest. (Reuters/Mikhail Voskresensky) #
Russian police detain an activist wearing a Vladimir Putin mask during an opposition protest in St. Petersburg, on December 8, 2011. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Thursday of stirring up protests against his 12-year rule and said foreign countries were spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence Russian elections. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
Police officers detain an opposition activist during a rally in downtown St.Petersburg, on December 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) #
Russian anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny looks out from the window of his cell in a detention center in Moscow December 8, 2011. Navalny was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 days in jail for his role in Monday's opposition protest, the largest held in Moscow in years. (Reuters/Anton Golubev) #
A security guard detains an activist of Ukraine's protest group Femen, outside the Christ the Saviour cathedral in Moscow, on December 9, 2011. The post-election protests in Moscow drew thousands and continued for several days in the biggest ever challenge to Putin, reflecting a growing public frustration with his rule that may complicate his bid to reclaim the presidency in the upcoming election in March. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #
Supporters of the Russian communist party hold a rally to protest against violations at the parliamentary elections in the center of Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, on December 9, 2011. The board reads, "We shall win". (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin) #
Mikhail Bachuk, 22, who was detained during an unauthorized rally against alleged mass fraud in the December 4 parliamentary polls and spent two days in prison, walks in a Moscow court lobby on December 8, 2011. Bachuk was released today from prison taking in account time spent in custody after the court sentenced him to 2 days in prison. Around 1,000 people have been arrested in Moscow in three nights of protests, according to police figures, while another 500 people have been arrested in similar protests in the second city of St. Petersburg. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images) #
Interior Ministry officers stand guard during a rally to protest against alleged election fraud near St. Basil's Cathedral, in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Anton Golubev) #
People attend a rally in Moscow's Bolotnaya square to protest against violations at the parliamentary elections, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
A woman holds a board that lists the names of Russian political parties and percentage figures during a rally to protest against violations at the parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov) #
Demonstrators shout during a mass rally to protest against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. Russians angered by allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections are protesting Saturday in cities from the freezing Pacific Coast to the southwest of Russia, eight time zones away, a striking show of indignation, challenging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's hold on power. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #
Demonstrators attend a rally in Bolotnaya square to protest against violations at the parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of cities across Russia on Saturday to demand an end to Vladimir Putin's rule and complain about alleged election fraud in the biggest show of defiance since he took power more than a decade ago. (Reuters/Anton Golubev) #
People attend a rally to protest against what activists say were violations at the parliamentary elections, in St. Petersburg, on December 10, 2011. The sticker reads "No voice (vote)". (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
A demonstrator holds a poster showing a manipulated photograph of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and bearing the words, "No! 2050" during a mass rally to protest against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #
Interior Ministry officers stand guard near Red Square during a rally to protest against violations at the parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov) #
Protesters, during a mass rally to protest against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections, in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. The "146%" refers to a screen capture from a Russian news broadcast that spread across the internet, appearing to show total votes for all of the parties adding up to 146% (as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement's "We are the 99%"). (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #
People attend a rally to protest against what they say were violations at the parliamentary elections in St. Petersburg, on December 10, 2011. The tattoo on the arm reads "Putin is a thief". (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
Wearing riot gear, interior troops stand near their trucks during an authorized opposition protest against the alleged mass fraud in the December 4 parliamentary polls in central Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images) #
Riot police stand guard during a rally to protest against what activists say were violations at the parliamentary elections, in St. Petersburg, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
Riot police detain a protester during a rally in downtown St.Petersburg, on December 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) #
A sign reading "Moscow does not believe United Russia" hangs in a tree in Bolotnaya Square, on December 10, 2011 during a protest in Moscow. (Harry Engels/Getty Images) #
People wearing Guy Fawkes masks attend a sanctioned rally on a bridge near Bolotnaya square to protest against violations in the parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin) #
Policemen detain an activist during a rally to protest against what activists say were violations at the parliamentary elections, in St. Petersburg, on December 10, 2011. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
Signs are held aloft as the protest in Bolotnaya Square comes to an end on December 10, 2011, in Moscow. Protests took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg this week amid allegations from both domestic critics and international observers that the recent Duma Elections were rigged. Russia's ruling party, United Russia, lost their parliamentary majority but still won close to 49.5 percent of the vote. (Harry Engels/Getty Images) #
Protesters light flares during a mass rally to protest against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. ( AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

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