Monday

23rd Jan 2017

EU official predicts major anti-Putin rally

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has predicted there will be a big turnout at a pro-democracy rally in Moscow on Saturday (4 February).

Reading to MEPs from a written statement in Brussels on Wednesday, she said: "The protests that started in December are set to continue. The movement has grown and we can expect a large mobilisation this Saturday."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

She added: "There is a rising group of people calling for real participation, for more decisive measures to rein in corruption and impunity, and to give more breathing space to democratic processes. And they are ready to express their opinion. Peacefully."

She castigated Prime Minister Putin for saying he will "swap jobs" with the president in an election due on 4 March. She also told Putin to let an opposition candidate - Grigory Yavlinsky - run in the vote.

In unscripted comments, she noted her envoys report a "change in the atmosphere" in Russia and that "things are beginning to change."

Most MEPs from the mainstream political groups backed Ashton's line.

German left-winger Knut Fleckenstein, who heads the parliament's Russia delegation, said: "We need to express solidarity for those who in recent days and months have joined the protests."

But for her part, Monika Flasikova Benova, a left-wing MEP from Slovakia, said the EU should put its own house in order on increasingly authoritarian countries, such as Hungary, before finger-wagging at Russia.

She was quickly pulled up by Polish centre-right deputy Marek Migalksi, who said: "Are you seriously making a comparison between these two countries [Hungary and Russia]?"

Facebook petitions indicate that 25,000-or-so people plan to attend the rally in Moscow. Thousands more are expected at pro-Putin counter-marches.

If the numbers live up to expectations, it will be the third major demonstration since international monitors last December said parliamentary elections were rigged.

"The EU should clearly say that the elections were not free and fair ... People in Russia need to hear this. Then it will be up to us to take the next step," Russian opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov told EUobserver in a recent interview.

Kerry to EU: Believe in yourself

Outgoing US secretary of state gives EU short pep talk from Davos, hailing its peaceful and economic success. 'It's worked, folks', he said.

Moldova turns from EU to Russia

Moldova's president said he would like to scrap an EU treaty and has started preparations to join a Russia-led bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey