Protest at Russian Consulate in Seattle draws support for imprisoned Russian dissidents

A boisterous crowd of demonstrators with bullhorns, banners and signs jammed the sidewalk in front of the Russian Consulate in Seattle on Saturday, December 1, 2012 demanding freedom for Russian political prisoners. Chanting in English and Russian, they called out the names of 19 individuals who are currently in detention for protesting Vladimir Putin's rigged elections and his subsequent crackdown on Russian leftists and other dissidents.

The picket was called in response to an appeal issued by the Russian Socialist Movement (RSD), Autonomous Action, and the Left Front, who called for international support during the Nov. 29 - Dec. 2 "Days of Solidarity Against Political Repression in Russia."

A diverse array of solidarity activists turned out for the protest, which was organized by the Freedom Socialist Party and Seattle Radical Women and endorsed by Seattle Gay News and Socialist Action. Members from seven different labor unions as well as delegates to the Martin Luther King County Labor Council walked the picket line, along with Occupy Seattle and anti-fascist organizers and members of the LGBT, Latino and Asian American communities. Neighbors driving by honked their horns in support and many stopped to take flyers and find out more about the issues.

After a brief rally, demonstrators turned towards the Consulate's security cameras and held up signs naming the imprisoned activists and a banner in Russian which said "Hands off Russian socialist, anarchists and other opponents of Putin"—to ensure that the residents in the fancy mansion that houses the Consulate would hear their message loud and clear.