The Kremlin ordered troops to take up position in Moscow on Tuesday morning after a large protest against Sunday’s disputed parliamentary election the night before shook its confidence.
Colonel Vasily Panchenkov, a spokesman for interior ministry forces, said the troops were being drafted in to “ensure the security of the citizens.” “They — (the troops) — have just one aim — to ensure the security of the citizens,” he told the Interfax news agency.
“Interior ministry troops can be deployed to safeguard public order.” Witnesses reported seeing motorised columns from the country’s feared Dzherzhinsky division trundling towards Moscow from their barracks.
The controversial move came as police continued to hold two prominent opposition leaders who were detained during one of the biggest protests against the Kremlin in recent years on Monday night.
Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party comfortably won Sunday’s election but saw its share of the vote sharply drop amid credible allegations from international observers that the election had been rigged in its favour.
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, one of Russia’s best known human rights activists, said she was disturbed by the decision to deploy troops in the Russian capital.
“It is not normal and it is very worrying,” she said. “Obviously the authorities are panicking and worried about street actions after the elections. A new parliament is beginning and they are drafting in troops. Read More