Vladimir Putin’s detractors may have been worried about public support when the number of people at the pro-Putin rally last week far outnumbered those at the anti-Putin protest.But a number of news outlets are now claiming that many pro-Putin attendees were coerced into going.
Many participants in the February 4 Anti-Orange rally at Poklonnaya Gora were lured with cash — generally 500 rubles — or were forced by their employers or trade unions to attend, and were threatened with “disciplinary action” if they refused, according to Radio Free Europe.
But these same protestors have now claimed they did not receive the payment they were promised in exchange for attending, The Moscow Times reports.
United Russia (Putin’s party), which organised the rally, has denied the allegations. “We didn’t force anyone to come; we didn’t make any such arrangements, either orally or in writing,” Natalya Burtseva, a spokesperson for the party’s Moscow branch, said. “The one thing we did, of course, was invite people to the rally, and those who wanted to came. All the rest is rumour and speculation.”
Russia’s Public Chamber, a governmental oversight group, has registered close to 200 complaints from schoolteachers who said they were forced to attend the pro-Putin rally, just like in Soviet times (and, it seems, in Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency), where it was often mandatory for public sector employees to attend government rallies.
Putin — a proponent of ‘might is right’ — seems to have all his bases covered to make sure he continues to appear the most popular candidate.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.