3298Thousands protest in Russian east
- Jan 31, 2009http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7862370.stm
Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009
Thousands protest in Russian east
Several thousand people have held a rally in Russia's Far East, demanding the government resign over the country's growing economic problems.
The protesters in Vladivostok blamed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's cabinet for mismanaging the economy and suppressing political dissent.
The rally - which passed off peacefully - was the first in a series of protests expected in Russia on Saturday.
Other recent protests across Russia have been broken up by the authorities.
Such protests were unthinkable just a few months ago as the economy boomed with record high oil prices and as the Kremlin tightened its grip over almost all aspects of society, the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow says.
But now with the economy in deep trouble, there is real fear amongst ordinary people about what the future will hold, he says.
He adds that unemployment is rising rapidly, as are the prices of basic food and utilities.
The anti-government demonstration in Vladivostok was called by the Communist Party.
"The crisis is in the heads of the authorities, not in the economy!" chanted protesters.
The protest was joined by a local group angered by higher tariffs imposed on cars imported to the city.
The region has thrived on the car import business and the government's decision has led to job losses, correspondents say.
Several anti-government demonstrators were also held in the capital Moscow and cities.
In Moscow, police detained a number of people taking part in an unauthorised protest by the radical National Bolshevik Party
In a separate demonstration in Vladivostock, thousands of supporters of the ruling United Russia held a rally in support of the government.