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Russian citizens use social media to organize protests against Putin, after critics say he rigged the country's parliamentary election.
Protests began earlier this week, after Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, was accused of rigging the DUMA election. Although exit polls seemed unfavorable to the United Russia party, the ruling party managed to hold onto their majority in the lower house of parliament.
Although officially, it is said that United Russia received about 50 percent of the vote, compared to 64 percent last election, several reports of fraud suggest that the party may have received even less than the reported statistic.
The Associated Press spoke to an anonymous commission chairman, who recalled how Putin was able to "win" the votes at his polling station:
On voting day, the chairman said, election workers quietly slipped ballots into the boxes, as many as 50 at a time, being careful to keep the papers from rustling and attracting the attention of observers.
He said workers were trained on how to stuff ballots, each a thin sheet roughly the size of standard letter paper. He demonstrated how a stack of up to 30 or even 50 ballots could be folded in half, hidden inside a jacket and slipped into the ballot box without making any noise.
Amateur videos that show votes being forged have been posted on social media networks, and sites like Facebook and Russia's Cyrillic-language VKontakte are being used to organize several protests--including the one scheduled for later this week. During these demonstrations, several arrests were made as citizens chant "Russia without Putin."
According to Reuters, more than 13,000 Facebook members and 6,000 people on VKontakte plan to attend another protest on Saturday, which will take place In Revolution Square, near the Kremlin.
Anton Smirnov, federal commissar of Putin's political youth group called "Nashi," spoke to The Christian Science Monitor. "There is no revolution going on, just a few provocations," said Smirnov. "We have had 10 times more people at our meetings than the numbers of marginal people and paid fanatics."
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