Moscow: A top Russian opposition group
accused Vladimir Putin`s ruling party on Saturday of preparing to
win next week`s parliamentary polls through fraud and
threatened mass protests in case of an unfair result.
A Moscow rally organised by A Just Russia, the smallest of
four parties in the State Duma lower house of parliament, drew
some 500 protesters to a small square near the Kremlin under
The demonstration was one of two planned for Moscow and
coincided with a similar event in Putin`s native city of Saint
Petersburg that drew about 300 people under the banner of "a
free and fair vote".
Senior A Just Russia lawmaker Gennady Gudkov told a crowd
of supporters clad in orange vests in Moscow that Russia`s
fractured opposition had "a common enemy" to fight in the
December 4 polls.
"United Russia has a strong popularity rating of 30 per
cent," the former KGB agent said, referring to Putin`s party.
"But it does not have 60 or 50 per cent. And if they get those
results in elections, it will be the result of fraud."
The last opinion polls permitted under Russian law showed
support slipping for the Kremlin group that formed around
Putin and first stormed parliament in 2003.
But United Russia is still expected to win more than half
of all the Duma seats after holding a two-thirds
constitutional majority in the outgoing chamber.
Gudkov alleged that extra ballot papers were being printed
and buses were being lined up to take voters to polling
stations by Russia`s various regional administration chiefs.
"There are full preparations under way for election
fraud," he said as banners waved in the crowd showing United
Russia`s white bear mascot walking through a stop sign with
the word "Enough!" written at the bottom.
"This is a crime against the constitution and a crime
against the future of the country. We have to put an end to
this monopoly of power," Gudkov said.
"If this fraud takes place, we will go to the streets."
A second unsanctioned event was being planned later across
the Moscow River from the White House government building
where Putin now formally has his offices.
That event was called by Russia`s leading liberals and
early radio reports said that up to 2,500 people had shown up
despite a heavy police presence, an unusually large number for
a banned political event in Moscow.