In the town of Anaco in eastern Venezuela’s oil-rich Anzoategui state, three yellow-shirted bodyguards rush a trim, perspiring, 39-year-old in a baseball cap from house to shabby brick house through 500 cheering, flag- waving fans. Most in the throng are visibly poor, some are young women with tears of joy running down their cheeks. All are sweaty under a hot April sun.
The protest movement, born from outrage over apparently manipulated parliamentary elections earlier this month, has gained both momentum and magnitude across Russia. The ruling tandem is taking note and, without admitting it, making concessions.
If the largest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of the Soviet Union have had any meaningful effect on Russia's leadership, you would hardly have guessed it from the president's traditional New Year's Eve address to the nation.
The mass demonstrations held Saturday to protest manipulation of Russia's parliamentary elections achieved something even greater than a turnout of some 50,000 in Moscow: They showed that rebellion doesn’t have to involve violence.
Fifty years after the Soviet Union put the first man into orbit, Russia's space program is facing new troubles. Last Wednesday, the routine launch of a Progress M-12M cargo ship headed for the International Space Station went terribly wrong.