#occupywallstreet

Up to 50,000 people braved the cold and snow on Saturday to turn out for the largest ever protest against the rule of prime minister Vladimir Putin.

Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin in central Moscow, was filled to overflowing with thousands standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the bridges and along the riverfront leading to the site. Tens of thousands of police and interior troops were deployed around the area, but protesters had been allowed by officials to gather in an unprecedented show of discontent.

Shouts of “Russia without Putin!” and “Freedom!” were mixed with demands that the Kremlin annul a disputed parliamentary election that saw Putin’s United Russia party gain nearly 50% of the vote despite widespread accusations of fraud.

"I demand new elections," said Maxim, 26, an economist. "If they don’t agree, we will continue to come out. The people have woken up – they see there’s a point to going out into the streets and expressing what they don’t agree with."

Opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov said a further protest would be held on Christmas eve if the Kremlin refused to cancel the election results. The overwhelmingly young crowd organised via social networking sites and exceeded early estimates of 30,000.

“Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”
~ Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (1988)

Consider this rather dramatic contrast: when 300 liberals are arrested during an anti-Putin protest in faraway Moscow, the New York Times splashes the news onto its front page. But when 700 radicals are arrested in an anti-Wall Street rally in New York itself, the Times systematically ignores them, pushing the news onto its obscure ‘City Room Blog’.

The difference in framing between these two items is particularly remarkable. First of all, there’s the title: “Moscow Moves to Quell Second Day of Anti-Putin Protests.” Compare the laden term “to quell”, which implies an authoritarian type of crackdown, with the following matter-of-fact statement: “Police Arrest More Than 700 Protesters on Brooklyn Bridge.”

Then compare the introductory paragraphs of the two articles: “Russian authorities acted decisively to quash a second day of anti-government protests,” versus “In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.”