Russian TV opens up on protests in surprise thaw

After ignoring protests against election results for a week, Russia’s state television took a surprise decision to cover nationwide rallies at the weekend, hinting at a lifting of taboos. The move, which seemed unthinkable just days before, was dictated by the sheer amount of protesters and discussion on the Internet as well as public commments on the rallies by the ruling tandem of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, experts said. The top-rated news show on Channel One led with the Moscow rally, while another Kremlin-controlled channel NTV reported openly that protesters believed Prime Minister Putin’s ruling party had committed fraud in the polls. In previous days television turned a blind eye to hundreds of arrests at Moscow rallies, including that of charismatic opposition blogger Alexei Navalny. But when more than 50,000 people gathered opposite the Kremlin for a rally sanctioned by the authorities, it became impossible to ignore. A Kremlin source told Gazeta.ru news site that President Medvedev personally decided to run the reports.

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