"White Square" Activists Gather in Red Square
<br>Care2.com April 9, 2012 By Sarah Vrba
There have been regular protests in Moscow in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s re-election to the presidential seat in March. Early last month, thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Moscow in response to what they felt were rigged elections in favor of Putin. Over the last month, organizers have faced an uphill battle as they have attempted to keep protesters motivated.
Still, on Sunday a group of peaceful protesters, sometimes called the “White Square” activists, gathered in Red Square. Wearing white clothing and white ribbons, this flash mob protest was flanked by metal detectors and tense police officers linking arms to keep any overzealous activists at bay.
Opposition organizers of the Front Left also advertised for the People’s March to be held on May 6, in protest to Putin’s inauguration as president. The informal and spontaneous aspect of the flash mob was a strategy to keep the authorities from arresting people standing together in solidarity.
Admittedly, this strategy worked in the organizers’ favor. Police allowed many of the protesters to walk around the square with little to no resistance.
Although many people were not harmed during the protest, prominent activist and leader of the Khimki Forest Defenders, Yevgenia Chirikova, was arrested for pitching a tent on Red Square, according to the Associated Press. She, along with a couple of other activists, were charged with disorderly conduct. Chirikova argues that “The tent is a symbol of our resistance to the illegitimate government,” according to a Twitter post.
Dozens of protesters followed as Chirikova was led away by police. The protesters left white ribbons on the police precinct doors after they had taken Chirikova into the building.
There was also a “White Metro” event held on Sunday in which activists pinned white ribbons and balloons to the walls of a prominent metro station. This event was met with more resistance from police forces as they attempted to push protesters out of the station and detained a few people advertising the May 6 march.
The relatively peaceful calm that came with Sunday’s event is in sharp contrast to an attempted march the week before in Red Square. Police closed off the square due to “maintenance” and did not allow any protesters into the area. In that event, 85 people were arrested for disorderly conduct.