Medvedev vows to fix political system
Around 8,000 people protest in Moscow and Saint Petersburg yesterday against what they say were rigged parliamentary polls handing victory to Putin’s ruling party.President Dmitry Medvedev has called for an overhaul of Russia’s “exhausted” political system in a sign that street protests and dissatisfaction with Vladimir Putin’s 12-year rule are starting to have some impact as thousands protested in Moscow and Saint Petersburg against what they say were rigged parliamentary polls.
“We are facing a new stage in the development of the political system and we can’t close our eyes to it. It has already begun,” Medvedev said in a transcript released by the Kremlin and published on the presidency website. “It didn’t begin as a result of some rallies, these are just on the surface, foam if you like. It’s a sign of human dissatisfaction,” he said. “It started because the old model which has served our state faithfully, truly and well in the last few years, and we all defended it, has largely been exhausted.”
Medvedev did not give any details of how United Russia and the political system, largely built around Putin, should change. But evoking the chaos that followed the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution made clear the risks of ignoring the mood of the people could be far-reaching. “The street, this is the mood of our people and the authorities must say responsibly and directly that this is their mood ... The mood of the people must be respected,” he said.
Thousands took to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg yesterday to protest over Russia’s fraud-tainted parliamentary vote. About 4,000 supporters of the Communist Party rallied just outside the walls of the Kremlin on a snowy afternoon, demanding a re-count and the government’s resignation. In St. Petersburg, a rally in a central square drew about 3,000 people from various political parties. Yesterday’s demonstrations were small compared to nationwide rallies held in at least 60 Russian cities last weekend, including an unprecedented gathering of tens of thousands in Moscow.