AT least 20,000 Russians have marched through Moscow protesting a ban on US adoptions of Russian orphans which has led to a further split in an already polarised society.
The protest dubbed “the March Against Scoundrels” was aimed at naming and shaming the MPs who fast-tracked the anti-adoption bill through the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.
Besides slogans such as “Stop Lying,” participants carried pictures of MPs Alina Kabayeva, a former gymnast, and Irina Rodnina, Russia’s Olympic gold figure skating champion, along with others who voted for the measure.
The word “shame!” was splashed across their portraits in red.
The Duma passed the bill without debate in a quick 420-7 vote during a third and final reading in December.
“I am against our Duma and the thieving authorities,” Yulia Shamanova, a young mother, told AFP.
“This is a very shameful law that should be cancelled.”
Moscow authorities said up to 20,000 people could participate in the protest amid a heavy police presence and temperatures of minus 12C.
At least 20,000 took part in the march, an AFP photographer said, while leftist activist Sergei Udaltsov said up to 50,000 had turned up.
City police put the turnout at just under 10,000.
“A little goes a long way,” said another march participant Alexei Sharapanyuk.
“Sooner or later something will change in the country. It is no longer possible to tolerate this.”
The latest anti-Kremlin march comes after President Vladimir Putin signed off on a measure that introduced a blanket ban on US adoptions in reprisal for Washington legislation targeting Russian officials who have allegedly committed rights abuses.
Critics say the measure will rob many disabled orphans of the chance to receive adequate medical treatment abroad and triggered a rare split in the government.
Scores of Russians had said they planned to join the march for the first time since unprecedented protests against Putin’s 13-year rule first shook Moscow in response to widespread fraud during parliamentary elections in December 2011.
Since then the protests, which at their height gathered up to 120,000 near the Kremlin have died down, with Putin launching a tough crackdown on civil society following his presidential comeback in May.