Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:54AM
Thousands of people take to the streets of the Russia capital, Moscow in an unauthorized rally called the 'March of Freedom'. Their demands are a change in government and greater political freedoms.
Despite harsh Russian winter and minus temperatures, thousands of people came to central Moscow to take part in a so-called 'March of Freedom'. It was organised by the opposition but was unauthorised by the city hall. A number of prominent opposition leaders were arrested during the gathering but were later released without charge. The protest was marking a year since a wave of mass protests began in Russia over the results of Parliamentary elections and discontent with the government. The police were on standby, outside the former KGB headquarters in central Moscow. Even special forces were drawn in to manage the crowd. The police urged people to leave the area because the protest wasn't authorised. The organisers of the March of Freedom were locked in negotiations with the Moscow authorities over the location for the event for weeks. Having failed to reach a compromise, the organisers withdrew their application to hold the march. After mass protests in May, Russia passed a law which makes it illegal to organise and to take part in unauthorised demonstrations and imposes a heavy fine. Some of the opposition leaders are currently under investigation for their role in past protests and only recently Russia's investigative committee accused some of them of receiving funding and training abroad. The government has given some concessions to the opposition, allowing for more political parties to be formed, but for many it is not enough.