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Mass rally in Moscow to protest election

(Xinhua)

09:31, December 25, 2011

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest against recent parliamentary election results in St. Petersburg Dec 24, 2011.(China Daily/Agencies)

MOSCOW, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Russians gathered here Saturday to protest against alleged vote fraud in the State Duma elections.

According to the rally organizers, some 100,000 people have attended the protest on Sakharov Avenue in downtown Moscow, which has been specially cut off to traffic for the gathering.

The Interior Ministry said about 29,000 people were participating on the peak of the rally.

The city police said tough security measures had been taken and protestors had to pass some 50 metal detectors to enter the avenue.

The rally organizers have promised the demonstration, under the slogan "For Fair Elections," would be safe and calm.

Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who resigned in September amid a spat with President Dmitry Medvedev over government budget policy, also attended the rally and addressed the protestors.

He called for prosecuting those guilty of alleged fraud during the parliamentary elections and insisted the head of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov should be dismissed.

There were large screens, loudspeaker equipment and field kitchens at the venue. About 4 million roubles (128,000 U.S. dollars) had been collected through social networks to finance the rally, local media said.

This is the second mass protest this month. On Dec. 10, more than 40,000 attended a rally at Bolotnaya Square, across the Moscow River from the Kremlin, demanding honest elections and a vote recount.

Big opposition protests against the alleged vote fraud in favor of the ruling party Untied Russia have taken place in many Russian cities after the Duma elections, in which the United Russia party, led by Vladimir Putin, has gained 238 out of 450 seats in the new State Duma.

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