Protesters held demonstrations throughout Russia on Saturday, offering largely subdued, but pointed criticism of the government’s economic policies as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass.
By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ and CLIFFORD J. LEVY
The New York Times
Antigovernment protests are rare in Russia, and the latest come amid growing public anger with a government not used to widespread criticism after years of economic growth. Officials had initially hesitated to publicly acknowledge Russia’s economic troubles brought on by a steep drop in oil prices and the worldwide financial downturn.
The government has allocated billions of dollars to bail out troubled banks and companies but has yet to put forward a clear long-term strategy for dealing with mounting unemployment and a rapidly devaluing ruble.
Other demonstrations against the government, as well as some in support, were held in several cities throughout the country, Russian news agencies reported.
About 1,000 people attended a rally organized by the Russian Communist Party in Moscow, calling for a return of the centralized economic policies of the Soviet Union, according to news agencies. The authorities approved the rally, and cordons of riot police officers watched over the march but did not interfere.
In another part of the city, about 200 protesters from opposition groups marched down several city blocks, having eluded the police in a circuitous jaunt through the city subway system. The authorities had vowed to prevent the march when organizers announced it last week.