Nov. 1 - Nearly 20 people are arrested for protesting the absence of opposition parties in Russia's upcoming elections. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: Authorities detained nearly 20 people on Tuesday (November 1) protesting against Russia's upcoming election in Moscow's Mayakovsky Square. Opposition protesters gathered on a sidewalk in central Moscow with banners and shouting slogans such as "Elections without an opposition are a crime." Police officers moved in quickly to break up the line of demonstrators who had linked arms, and arrested approximately 20 participants according to Russia's Interfax news agency. Russia will hold parliamentary elections on December 4, 2011, and presidential elections in March 2012. In September Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that they planned to switch roles in March 2012 with Putin running for a six-year term as president and appointing Medvedev as prime minister in charge of the economy. Both leaders said that they had agreed on the plan long ago, which aggravated feelings among many Russians that they were kept in the dark while the country's political future for years to come had been determined behind closed doors. Various opposition leaders whose parties were ousted from the election process have been calling on their supporters to submit X-ed out ballots in Russia's upcoming parliamentary elections - canceling their vote for any party - as a sign of protest against the lack of free choice and political freedoms in Russia. Rights groups and Kremlin opponents say the authorities often use technicalities to bar some opponents from elections and distort the voting results in favor of the ruling party. Electoral officials dismiss such claims.