RUSSIAN OPPOSITION VOWS NEW RALLY FEB 26 UNLESS DEMANDS MET
A Russian opposition leader vowed to organize a new rally against vote fraud on February 26 if the government fails to meet protester demands at a demonstration scheduled on February 4, Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Solidarity party, RIA Novosti reported.
"So long as the government ignores our demands, we will draw up a schedule for all of February," Nemtsov said.
The opposition plans to hold a five-hour march and demonstration on February 4, exactly one month before presidential elections, to demand a rerun of parliamentary elections, resignation of Central Election Commission chief Vladimir Churov, release of political prisoners and liberal reforms. One route for the proposed march is along the Garden Ring Road in downtown Moscow.
Over 20,000 people have already signed up on Facebook to participate.
The presidential candidates who include protester demands in their platforms will have the opportunity to address the protesters, Nemtsov said. That has already been done by Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, A Just Russia head Sergei Mironov and the head of the liberal Yabloko party Grigory Yavlinsky.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, another candidate challenging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the upcoming presidential race, said that he would also take part in the demonstration. "I will definitely be there. As soon it is clear how the rally is organized, I will determine the form of my participation," Prokhorov told journalist on Tuesday, January 24.
Last month's rallies against suspected vote fraud in favor of Putin's United Russia party at the December 4 parliamentary polls drew tens of thousands of protesters in Moscow, including - according to various estimates - between 30,000 and 60,000 on Bolotnaya Square on December 10, and between 45,000 and 100,000 on Sakharov Avenue on December 24.
Putin, who is seeking to return as Russia's president after March elections, was one of the main targets of the protesters, who accused him of stifling political competition while president in 2000-2008.
Following the December protests, the Kremlin proposed a liberal reform of election law, but would only put the changes into effect in time for the next Duma elections in 2016.
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