Occupy Moscow? Street protests over Vladimir Putin presidency
On Monday, 5,000 protesters chanted "Russia without Putin." More protests are planned Wednesday night in Moscow over election rigging by Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.
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Monday's rally drew many people who had never demonstrated before, according to participants. Kremlin opponents hope protests will gain momentum by bringing more Russians who are unhappy with Putin and his party on to the streets.Skip to next paragraph
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Putin tacitly acknowledged many Russians' desire for change on Tuesday by promising to reshuffle the government after the presidential election. But the Kremlin had already signalled that would occur and Putin promised no immediate action.
Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, the protege he tapped as successor when term limits barred him from seeking re-election in 2008, revealed in September that they plan to swap jobs next year, with Medvedev taking over as prime minister.
Putin remains Russia's most popular politician and is likely to win a six-year presidential term, after which he could run again, potentially serving until 2024.
European observers said the election was slanted in favour of United Russia and marked by indications of ballot-box stuffing.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Lithuania for an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting, suggested on Tuesday that it was neither free nor fair.
Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Clinton's actions showed "disrespect" to the 56-member OSCE.
"This (OSCE) is not Hyde Park, this is not Triumph Square in Moscow, where speakers arrive to pour out their soul and then turn around and leave, not listening to others," he said.
He was referring to London's Hyde Park and its famed "Speakers' Corner" and to the square in Moscow that was the site of Tuesday's protest.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Grove, writing by Steve Gutterman, editing by Robert Woodward)