Several thousand Russians embraced Facebook and other social media this week to protest against Sunday's legislative elections won by Vladimir Putin's ruling party. More demonstrations against the alleged election fraud, which handed a narrow victory to the Russian prime minister's party, are to come.
More than 32,000 users have said they are going to the Facebook event calling for a massive demonstration Saturday at Moscow's Revolution Square, even though the government is only allowing 30,000. A map circulating on the Internet shows protests planned this weekend in more than 75 cities in the country, according to CBS News.
The protests are receiving next to no coverage on mainstream television. One of the few Russian channels to closely follow the events, Dozhd (meaning rain in Russian), is privately owned and broadcasts primarily online. Still, it referred to the public outcry as "The Facebook revolution."
"Nothing like this has ever happened before," journalist Sergei Parkhomenko told Dozhd. "This all started with a few posts on Facebook and (blogging platform) LiveJournal."
With TV failing to help, the country is turning to the Internet, like so many before it. Various Russian websites have been reporting on the opposition, the alleged election fraud, and the ensuing events. Unfortunately, many have allegedly been the victims of massive hacking attacks. This has only fueled further protests.
The demonstrations are reportedly the largest Moscow has seen in years: they have included many who admitted to have never before joined such calls for opposition. Over 1,000 individuals have already been arrested. Among them are key bloggers and organizers, but this doesn't appear to be helping matters: hundreds are taking their place and declaring they will take to the streets.
We will soon see how the Facebook-led event goes on Saturday. I can only hope that it will be peaceful.
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