This was something that was supposed to happen only in the Ukraine and Belarus. Following the elections for the Russian to Duma and the reports of widespread in illegalities such as ballot stuffing and the delayed announcement of the electoral results, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Moscow.
The protesters were able to accomplish via a Facebook revolution what organized opposition parties could not - a sizable demonstration against the election results. Republican Senator John McCain, no great admirer of Vladimir Putin, tweeted the Russian leader advising him that the Arab Spring "is coming to a theater near you."
To head off such a possibility, the Russian government beefed up its military presence including troops from the Interior Ministry. The official story was that these troops have already been in the capital days preceding the election to keep order and they were merely being rotated. However, many city residents disagree claiming that reinforcements have come in since the disputed election. Other people reported water canons had been positioned on the streets.
Police have begun to arrest protest leaders, smacking them with 15 day prison sentences - a policy that has been employed with dissidents in the past. The dissidents were heartened by the charges frome OSCE observers that the elections were not conducted fairly. These charges were endorsed for the second straight day by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
To compete for control of the streets, Putin's United Russia party has brought in its youth movement Nashi for a show of strength and a so-called victory rally. The group gathered near Red Square before a stage with portraits of Mr. Putin and President Dmitri A. Medvedev.
The government made it plain will not tolerate the post-election protests that will undercut their momentum. "The actions of those who hold unsanctioned demonstrations must be stopped," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.