Behind the anti-Putin movement's symbolic protest
Social activists in Moscow have dubbed February 5 White Ribbon Day, urging residents to wear the ribbons that have become the symbol of the demand for free elections. The call, made on a Facebook page, comes after weeks of media rumors -- unfounded, as it turns out -- that the Moscow city council, or duma, had banned displaying the white ribbon at its December 26, 2012 session.
Television host Vladimir Posner even asked Moscow Culture Department
head Sergei Kapkov to comment on the alleged "ban" during a February 3
broadcast on state TV's Channel One. Kapkov said the measure was needed
to protect protesters. "Such ribbons can be taken as a provocation -- when you are riding in
the metro, when you are using public transportation," Kapkov said. "And
we have already had cases when there was physical interference in the
life of another person."
Kapkov's comments set off alarm bells among activists, and Moscow City Duma Chairman Vladimir Platonov was quick to announce that no such ban had been adopted.
Following the December 2011 State Duma elections, tens of thousands of Muscovites poured into the streets festooned in white ribbons. Then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin famously mocked the ribbons during a marathon question-and-answer session with citizens on December 15, 2011. "To be honest, when I saw on television what some people had attached to themselves -- it's not very polite, but I'll say it anyway -- I thought it was an anti-AIDS campaign," Putin said. "I thought they had stuck, excuse me, condoms on themselves."