Rival Putin rallies face off in Moscow

Rival Putin rallies face off in Moscow

Rival Putin rallies face off in Moscow

Protesters carry a model of a prison cell with Putin’s figure. AFP Photo

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Moscow on Feb. 4 for rival rallies arguing over the future of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, ahead of presidential polls.

While protesters from the anti-Putin movement urged the him to quit, his supporters also filled a square in western Moscow.

Police said 138,000 turned up for the pro-Putin rally in the west of the capital and put the number of protesters at the anti-Putin event at around 36,000. However opposition rally organizers insisted they mobilized over 120,000. Meanwhile, government supporters staged a rival rally at Poklonnaya Gora War Memorial Park dubbed the “anti-Orange protest” -- a reference to Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution that ousted its old order and infuriated the Kremlin. On the same day, Putin was 1,500 km from Moscow, promising angry residents of the Ural Mountains town of Roza the state would move 3,800 people from homes threatened by shifting ground on the edge of the biggest open-pit coal mine in Eurasia. “You see what we are doing, we are dealing with concrete problems of the people who live here,” Putin said when asked about the demonstrations.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.