Defying Coronavirus, Protesters Throng Streets to Demand Putin’s Resignation

President Vladimir Putin visited on July 1, 2020 polling station No. 2151 located on the premises of the Russian Academy of Sciences and took part in the nationwide vote on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Photo: Kremlin
President Vladimir Putin visited on July 1, 2020 polling station No. 2151 located on the premises of the Russian Academy of Sciences and took part in the nationwide vote on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Photo: Kremlin

By RMN News Service

Thousands of people protested in Russia’s Far East on Saturday (July 11) to express their opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Defying social-distancing norms and without wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic, the protesters in Russia’s vast hinterland chanted “Putin Resign” slogans and demanded the release of a regional governor arrested a week ago under the alleged charges of multiple murders.

According to reports, the protests in Khabarovsk, a city bordering China, and several other towns were the largest in Russia’s mostly inactive provinces in many years, exceeding in size the demonstrations held last summer in Moscow, the main center of opposition to the Kremlin.

The reports add that Alexei Navalny, a Moscow-based anti-corruption campaigner and Russia’s main opposition leader, cheered Saturday’s protests in the Far East, hailing the street demonstration in Khabarovsk as the “biggest in the city’s history.”

However, the state-controlled media ignored the protests while giving extensive coverage to troubles in the United States, particularly a spike in coronavirus cases.

The protests come close on the heels of a dubious poll held on July 1 to accept constitutional changes that will allow Putin to stay in power until 2036.

The opposition leader Alexei Navalny refused to accept the results of the voting, saying that it was an illegitimate vote designed to legalize Putin’s presidency for life. Navalny added that with the help of his supporters he will hold “street protests” against Putin after the coronavirus pandemic – possibly in the autumn.

With nearly 730,000 reported coronavirus cases and 11,500 deaths as of July 13, Russia is at No. 4 – after the U.S., Brazil, and India – in the list of the worst-affected nations.

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Rakesh Raman