- - Sunday, January 29, 2012


Cars circle central Moscow in anti-Putin protest

MOSCOW — Thousands of cars flying white ribbons or white balloons circled central Moscow on Sunday in a show of protest against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The cars - ranging from luxury sedans and sporty convertibles to old, exhaust-spewing Soviet models - jammed the inner lanes all along the nearly 10-mile Garden Ring, which has as many as 16 lanes of traffic at its widest points.

More protesters stood along the side of the road waving white ribbons and flags as the vehicles passed, their horns blaring.

White ribbons became an opposition symbol during protests that broke out after a fraud-tainted Dec. 4 parliamentary election won by Mr. Putin’s party.

Tens of thousands turned out for two mass protests last month to demand free and fair elections, and protest organizers now are preparing for a third big demonstration on Saturday.

Mr. Putin is running in a March 4 presidential election to reclaim the post he held from 2000 to 2008. He is expected to win, but is under pressure to show he can win fairly.

Sunday’s action was aimed at helping to build momentum for the protest movement, and it provided another outlet for the creativity that has been a defining feature of the demonstrations.

Opposition activist Alexei Navalny said the traveling protest action was a “wonderful advertisement” for Saturday’s rally.


Removing capsized ship could take up to 10 months

GIGLIO — The cruise ship that capsized off Italy’s coast will take up to 10 months to remove, officials said Sunday, as rough seas off the Tuscan coast forced the suspension of recovery operations.

Officials called off both the start of operations to remove of 500,000 gallons of fuel and the search for people still missing after determining the Costa Concordia had moved an inch and a half over six hours, coupled with waves of more than 3 feet.

A 17th body, identified as Peruvian crew member Erika Soria Molina, was found Saturday. Sixteen crew and passengers remain listed as missing, with one body recovered from the ship not yet identified.

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