Cars circle central Moscow in anti-Putin protest

January 29, 2012 - 10:05 AM
Russia Opposition

Russian made car Lada car decorated of white balloons seen on the Moscow's Garden Ring road during a protest in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. Hundreds of cars flying white ribbons or white balloons are driving around Moscow's Garden Ring in a show of support for a protest movement against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

MOSCOW (AP) — Thousands of cars flying white ribbons or white balloons circled central Moscow on Sunday in a show of protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The cars — ranging from luxury sedans and sporty convertibles to old, exhaust-spewing Soviet models — jammed the inner lanes all along the 16-kilometer (nearly 10-mile) Garden Ring, which has as many as 16 lanes of traffic at its widest points.

More protesters stood along the side of the road waving white ribbons and flags as the vehicles passed, their horns blaring.

White ribbons became an opposition symbol during protests that broke out after a fraud-tainted Dec. 4 parliamentary election won by Putin's party.

Tens of thousands turned out for two mass protests last month to demand free and fair elections, and protest organizers are now preparing for a third big demonstration on Saturday.

Putin is running in a March 4 presidential election to reclaim the post he held from 2000 to 2008. He is expected to win, but is under pressure to show he can win fairly.

Sunday's action was aimed at helping to build momentum for the protest movement and it provided another outlet for the creativity that has been a defining feature of the demonstrations.

While most drivers were content to tie white ribbons and balloons to their cars' antennas, sideview mirrors and door handles, some decorated their vehicles with original signs and banners.

Opposition activist Alexei Navalny said the traveling protest action was a "wonderful advertisement" for Saturday's rally.