Islam Times 19 Feb 2012 - 6:08 http://islamtimes.org/en/doc/news/138925/ -------------------------------------------------- Title : Thousands attend rallies to support Putin’s presidential bid -------------------------------------------------- Islam Times - Tens of Thousands of the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin supporters have rallied across the country to back his bid for presidency, in response to nationwide protests against his candidacy. Text : More than 50,000 people attended rallies in European Russia, Siberia and the Far East on Saturday supporting prime minister s candidacy for a historic third term in Kremlin. Russian news agencies say at least 10,000 people attended a rally in St. Petersburg, while 12,000 people turned out in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk. Rallies attended by at least 10,000 people also took place in cities including Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, and Novosibirsk. Russians are taking to the streets with increasing regularity ahead of the March 4 election as the opposition and pro-Putin camp seek to outdo each other with competing rallies. A giant pro-Putin rally is scheduled for February 23 in Moscow that organizers hope will muster 200,000 people. The opposition has accused the authorities of using the state's resources to encourage people to show up for the Putin rallies. The opposition has also planned a rival rally to be held on February 26 in the Capital Moscow, who is counting on tens of thousands to turn out to form a human chain around the capital's inner ring road. Polls suggest that Putin should easily win the presidential elections, with his four registered opponents failing to provide a significant challenge. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is reportedly due to become prime minister under a prospective Putin presidency in March 2012 -- a job swap bitterly criticized by the opposition. Putin's presidency ended in 2008 after two consecutive terms because the Russian constitution prevented him from running a third term, however he will be free to run again in 2012.