December 8, 2011 - 17:23 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - In the latest sign of the growing role the Internet is playing in bringing a groundswell of public discontent with the Kremlin onto the streets, some 18,000 people have signed up on a Facebook page to attend planned mass nationwide demonstrations on December 10 over alleged election violations.
On Vkontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, 7,000 people have promised to show up.
Those numbers, which were reached in just a few hours, portend an unprecedented public display of anger at Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his ruling United Russia party, which is alleged to have rigged the December 4 parliamentary elections in the Kremlin's favor.
December 7 saw a third night of protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and more arrests by the police. The crowds were smaller than the several-thousand-strong masses who came out on December 5-6, but the persistence of the demonstrators is being seen as remarkable.
The opposition rallies have been dubbed a "Facebook revolution" by one privately owned media outlet, and marking a new era in hitherto monochrome politics by others. Simmering discontent among the young tech-savvy generation shows no sign of abating, despite the jailing of key opposition leaders and beefed-up security in the capital.
Election critics got a boost on December 7 when one of Russia and the former Soviet Union's most recognizable faces, Mikhail Gorbachev, hinted that Russian authorities had been "discredited" and said the country should hold a new vote, RFE/RL reported.