X marks the spot: Activists unveil anti-Putin banner within view of Kremlin

MALMO, Sweden — A group of Russian activists on Tuesday unveiled a giant black-and-yellow banner in full view of the Kremlin, saying “Putin, Leave!”

The 140 square meter banner, draped over a rooftop billboard across the Moscow River, showing the face of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Prime Minister and presidential candidate, struck out by the letter X.

Ilya Yashin, 28, of Solidarity, claimed responsibility, explaining that the group had decided to make it face the Kremlin, the seat of Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, to make a point about the continuing grip of Putin, who was president between 2000 and 2008.

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“Its clear that Medvedev is not the president,” Yashin wrote in his blog. "Putin was and remains the master of the Kremlin. He is the constructor and ideologue of the political system that has destroyed competition in this country.”

Yashin boasted that it took seven activists just 15 minutes to erect the banner, which remained in place for hours before it was removed by the police.

Putin has recently seen the biggest opposition protests since he became president in 2000, with tens of thousands taking to the streets to protest
the results of December’s parliamentary elections.

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Yashin himself was detained by police for 15 days last month, after being arrested at a rally at the end of December.

The country is due to hold presidential elections at the start of March.  

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