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The Big White Circle in Moscow. reports

By Vera Vasilieva


· Electoral rights  · Protest movement  · Moscow city & Moscow region

On 26 February Moscow witnessed what was perhaps its most unusual peaceful public protest in the last several decades, which had no leaders or organizers but united tens of thousands of individuals. The “Big White Circle,” as it came to be called, linked up at approximately 2:00 p.m Moscow time, undaunted by bad weather and provocations from pro-Kremlin youth.

Demonstrators came out along Moscow’s downtown Garden Ring, facing towards the center, and joined hands. Nearly everyone carried a white ribbon, white balloons or white flowers. The human chain symbolized not only a non-violent protest against election fraud, lies and corruption prevailing in the corridors of power, but also a stand for public unity. correspondent Vera Vasilieva who participated in the protest in front of the RIA News building on Zubovsky Boulevard noted that famous people mingled with the general public, standing in a single chain. The author of this text found herself standing next to the journalist Olga Romanova, her husband, businessman Aleksey Kozlov, and politicians Vladimir Ryzhkov and Gennadiy Gudkov.

Photos by Vera Vasilieva,

Cars decorated with the symbols of the protest drove past on the Garden Ring, greeting the demonstrators with continuous honking. A white ribbon had even been tied to one of the trolleybuses making its way down the central route. Yabloko took part in the car rally as well: between 2pm and 4pm, cars bearing the party’s flag drove past the RIA Novosti building several times.

The friendly atmosphere was disturbed only by members of pro-Kremlin youth groups, a large number of whom appeared at the edges of the Garden Ring in the vicinity of the RIA Novosti building at around 1:30pm and did not disperse for the next two hours. The young people held large, factory-made plastic hearts that were red on one side and white on the other and read, “Putin loves everyone.”

Some held banners in the form of a film clapperboard that read, “One week to Putin’s victory.” An apartment building on the opposite side of the street had been draped in identical banners bearing the portrait of the Russian prime minister and displaying the slogan, “For Putin. Period.”

Among those supporting Putin were some who looked young enough to be school kids. Several of them agreed to answer questions, and it became clear that the children had been brought in from a considerable distance, including Chechnya and Dagestan.

It also appeared that there were people in charge of the children, walking along the line and giving out orders as to what to do.

The pro-Kremlin youth attempted to form a line closer to the road in order to block the participants of the “White Circle” from the cars that drove past. They chanted loudly, “Russia for Putin!”, “Who here is for Putin? We are for Putin!” and, to the individuals with white ribbons, “How much were you paid?”

Meanwhile, the Putin supporters all held identical cell phones decorated with a portrait of the Russian prime minister.

Despite some tension caused by the pro-Kremlin youth, the Big White Circle in the Zubovsky Boulevard area took place without incident.

While this article was going to press, received the following photo:

From left to right: “White Circle” protesters Oleg Orlov, the cat Atos, and Sergey Adamovich Kovalev
Atos’s mother was a cat belonging to murdered journalist Natalya Estemirova.
Rights in Russia,
28 Feb 2012, 11:05