“Putin not my president”: Russians in Prague join “Noon against Putin” protests at home

As the world watched the orchestrated re-election of Vladimir Putin as Russia’s president for the next six years, Russian nationals in Prague gathered on Wenceslas Square in a symbolic show of support for the “Noon against Putin” protests at home. Many of them did not get the chance to vote.

Photo: Jana Karasová,  Czech Radio

Russians opposed to the Putin regime, took to the streets in cities around the world on Sunday in a symbolic show of support for Kremlin opponents at home. In Prague several dozen Russian nationals assembled on Wenceslas Square holding up banners reading “Putin is not my president”, “Prague against Putin” and “End the war!”. The organizer of the event, Anton Litvin, said it is important to show the world that not all Russians support what is happening.

"Our goal is to show Czechs and the tourists who are here that not all Russians support Putin's regime, that we stand for Ukraine and we oppose the war. We want democratic changes in Russia."

"My name is Sergei and I came here to express my disagreement with what our “so-called president” is doing. In my opinion, he is not a president, in my opinion he is a murderer and a liar."

Kristina, a Russian student in Prague, sported a white flag and a banner reading “You cannot imprison and kill us all”.

Photo: Jana Karasová,  Czech Radio

"We are also on this side - we support the opposition and want Russia to be a free country again. So that we can live there and be happy without Putin and his Kremlin scoundrels."

Over 1,600 Russians cast their ballot at the Russian embassy in Prague on Friday. While in Russia the elections were held over three days, in Prague Russian nationals could only vote on Friday from 8am until 8 pm, with people queuing outside the embassy for hours to get in. The polling station closed as announced, even though there was still a long line of people standing outside.

Daniel was one of many who failed to get in.

“The fact that they shut the door in our face is disrespectful to their own citizens. I wanted to vote against everyone. It's a choice between doing nothing or at least something. There is not a single opposition candidate in this election."

Photo: Jana Karasová,  Czech Radio

Many of those who got in said they either spoiled their ballot paper or voted for one of the three candidates standing against Putin.

As the Kremlin announced Vladimir Putin’s landslide victory in the elections, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the elections had been neither transparent nor democratic.The ministry criticized the fact that the elections were held in conditions of systematic suppression of Russian civil society, without independent media or any semblance of real opposition. Moreover, it pointed out that Russia also organized voting in the occupied territories of Ukraine, which it described as an “illegitimate farce” carried out with the intention to legitimize the results of its aggressive policy towards the neighbor state.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Jana Karasová
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