A far-eastern tiger faces Putin's United Russia bear.
Putin flew groups of riot police 10,000 kilometres on Saturday to meet anti-government protestors gathered in Vladivostok. Around a thousand Russians from the east of the country showed disdain for the Prime Minister by taking to the streets. Their message: "United Russia can go to hell".
They started out as demonstrations against a tax increase on imported cars (implemented to strengthen the country's own automobile industry). But after two weeks of heightened tensions in Russia's far-eastern cities, the discontent has developed into a bitter political attack on the country's capital and Mr Putin. The Kremlin responded to the protests by flying riot police in to the city from Moscow - 9,300 kilometres away. The armed guards beat kicked and arrested around 200 people including reporters and a group who were dancing around a New Year tree (see video below).
The demonstration was not authorised by the local authorities. When these people started dancing around a New Year tree in Vladivostok's main square, riot police were sent in to remove them. Video posted by "tatatrumo" 21 Dec. 08.
Reporters were also arrested. Video posted by "lisamanina" 21 Dec. 08.
People were carried away by police. Photos by blogger "matroskin_cat".
Police photograph themselves on Saturday before the arrests start.
Written below the United Russia flag: "Go to Bobruysk, you beast". Bobruysk is a Belorussian town; the sentence is widespread Russian slang for "Go to Hell". Photo taken in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (on the Sakhalin Island off the east coast) by "troevredie".
"Russian people! There's not enough honey for everyone! Learn to suck on your paws!" Below: "Government! Stick your concern for people up your ass! Just let us be!" Photo taken in Vladivostok by blogger "matroskin_cat".
"A present for Putin". Protesters send this Russian car to Putin who drives a Mercedes. Photo taken in Khabarovsk (east) by Mikhail Stroev.
There were also arrests in Novosibirsk, a central Russian city, where protests were held in support of Vladivostok, along with several other cities, including Moscow, where around 200 people gathered. Posted by "McOFF54" 21 Dec. 08