Russia: December 10 Opposition Rally in St. Petersburg

This post is part of our special coverage Russia Elections 2011.

Russia hasn’t seen such a mass political rally in almost 20 years. On December 10, 2011, thousands of Russians all over the country took to the streets to participate in peaceful demonstrations. They did not call for overthrow of the government, they did not want a revolution and they were not out for blood. On December 10, their main demand was free and fair elections, as stated in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

Later they adopted a resolution, demanding the following [ru]:

  • Immediate release of political prisoners;
  • Cancellation of results of the falsified elections;
  • Dismissal of the chairman of the Central Election Commission;
  • Investigation of the facts of violations of law during the elections;
  • Punishing the guilty.
"No voice." Photo from Saint-Petersburg manifestation. Photo by Salimasafarova (

"No voice." Photo from Saint-Petersburg manifestation. Photo by Salimasafarova (

At the time when some 60,000 Muscovites were protesting at Bolotnaya Square, in St. Petersburg over 5,000 people gathered at Pionerskaya Square. This rally had been permitted by the city authorities only in the evening of December 9, which was a surprise for most participants. There were assumptions that the new location for the rally was a provocation from the authorities (the same happened in Moscow, when Revolution Square was suddenly changed for Bolotnaya).

Twitter user Andrey Seryakov wrote [ru]:

December 10 in [St. Pete] is either a big stupidity or a very big provocation […]

Fortunately, the rally ended up being a peaceful one. Alice Gorbunova tweeted [ru]:

I was sure that there'd be unrest and provocations. how nice it is to be wrong! #10дек

Initially, the protesters planned to gather on the Vosstaniya Square and conduct an unauthorized meeting there. Later it was agreed that people would gather there and then go peacefully to Pionerskaya. The square was filled with police and riot police, but this time no scuffles took place (in Moscow, there were about 50,000 police and riot police deployed to work on the day of the rally).

The protesters delivered an ultimatum to St. Petersburg governor Georgy Poltavchenko, demanding the results of the election to be cancelled [ru] within eight days; if this demand is not met, even more people will gather for a new rally, already approved by the authorities, on December 18 (see this group in Vkontakte [ru] for more info; the next rally in Moscow is scheduled for December 24).

Most protesters at the St. Petersburg rally were young people under 30. Many older people came with children. There was a group of boys aged 11-12 years old, holding posters with “Democracy – YES. Putin – NO!” written on them (for more photos, see here, here and here).

Representatives of various political movements came to express their discontent with flags, posters and other attributes. It was extraordinary to see nationalists and anarchists standing close to each other and not fighting. Lots of people did not belong to any movement – they came just because they felt they needed to do so. Most of them had been apolitical before the elections, but now they felt that the rigging of the vote was not just a political trick, but a crime that should be punished.

LJ user drugoi wrote [ru]:

…And I like these citizens. This is precisely my dream – people who care. Only such a nation can stand up for itself, for its interests.

This post is part of our special coverage Russia Elections 2011.


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