Russia Wildly Exaggerates Crowds at Pro-Putin Rally
Authorities say 25K; media put it at 5K or fewer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2011 9:59 AM CST
Supporters of Vladimir Putin's United Russia's party gather at Manezhnaya square, just outside the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

(Newser) – Authorities said 25,000 people attended a pro-Putin rally yesterday in Russia, but the real number was "not even close" to that amount, reports the New York Times—and many of the attendees weren't there of their own free will. "Apparently it’s our duty. We’re supposed to make up the masses," says an accountant who claims she was "forced to come." Another, amid expletives, complained that classes were canceled in order for students to attend.

The rally was planned for United Russia, the country's governing party, in the wake of this weekend's massive anti-Kremlin protest alleging electoral fraud. But rather than showing the government's strength, the rally didn't even see enough attendees to fill the small square in which it was held. Reuters puts the number at 5,000 at most. During the rally, officials gave speeches, repeating Putin's claim that the US is provoking the protests.
 

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