The anti-government movement in Russia is expanding amid strong opposition to the rule of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after a voting scandal.
About 16,700 people have indicated on Facebook that they have intentions to gather in Revolution Square, near the Kremlin, this Saturday. Another 5,500 people said they would attend a similar protest in St. Petersburg, according to The Guardian.
A disputed parliamentary election result that protesters say fabricated popularity of Putin’s United Russia party sparked the country’s recent civil unrest.
Dmitry Finikov, a Russian election monitor, posted photographs and video online Wednesday showing how election officials at his polling site in central Moscow threw away the official result of the vote, which showed United Russia coming in third with 128 votes, behind the Communists (202) and liberal Yabloko (134). In the final tally, United Russia won the vote at the site.
The police presence throughout Russia has been strengthened, and officials in the country are prepared to quell the unrest. People planning to protest have been warned that the unrest may lead to instances of violence.
Vladimir Milov, a Russian opposition leader, warned people to stay away from the protest on Saturday.
“All this can end in big blood,” he wrote on the website of Ekho Moskvy, a liberal Russian radio station. “This is the most dangerous thing in today’s situation.”