Thousands of Russians march against Putin's return to Kremlin
Critics of Russian leader have homes raided
A hundred thousand Russians are estimated to have marched against
President Vladimir Putin\'s return to the Kremlin for a third term.
Moscow Police report that up to 18,000 people had set off on
demonstrations. That number grew as organizers put the figure at about
100,000, swelling beyond the limit of 50,000 people.
Vladimir Putin first appeared reconciliatory, saying the demonstrations were signs of a healthy democracy, wanting to engage in dialogue with the nation's many political groups, Putin's actions appear to belie his words.
The raids, carried out by police armed with assault rifles signaled a shift in dealing with protests as Putin starts his new six-year term.
In spite of the crackdown, the Russian people appear united in their opposition to Putin. Speakers urged the populace \"to carry on another summer of protests. In Occupy-style actions," as Putin begins his third term.
"Before when we were going to the rallies, we were worried because of the illegitimate elections and we requested a new vote. Now we realize this illegitimate authority is making decisions which break all the rules," one protestor told an Al Jazeera correspondent.
Putin appeared reconciliatory, saying the demonstrations were signs of a healthy democracy, wanting to engage in dialogue with the nation\'s many political groups, Putin\'s actions appear to belie his words.
Putin signed into law last week that increased fines for violations of public order at street demonstrations, ignoring warnings from his human rights council that it was unconstitutional.
"The laws that are being adopted now are being made by people who don\'t love our country, our children, or themselves. And the point of what is going on here is to stop these people," one Russian man said.
Among the critics of the current regime suffering from persecution are Alexei Navalny, a popular anti-corruption blogger, as well as Ksenya Sobchak, a media celebrity and Putin critic.
Navalny\'s attorney, Olga Mikhailova, told Moscow radio that \"around 15 policemen burst\" into his Moscow apartment on Monday morning and presented him with a search warrant. "Initially, they tried to break down the door,\" she said.
Alexander Nekrassov, a former Kremlin adviser, said he found the recent persecutions of pro-democracy activists \"bizarre.
\"All these people whose houses have been searched have been given such publicity on the eve of another important march,\" he told Al Jazeera correspondents.
\"So I would say that the security forces, the police, are doing a disfavor to Putin - and Russia, generally.\"
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Vladimir Putin, demonstrations, Russia, dissidents, Kremlin
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