After a weekend which saw the detentions of leading opponents of Vladimir Putin during election rallies, the Russian president has himself been on the campaign trail.
While on a tour of St Petersburg he accused the US and the EU of interfering in Russian affairs.
Brussels joined Washington in voicing concern over a weekend police crackdown on unauthorised opposition marches.
Russia is entering the final days of campaigning before next Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which Putin’s United Russia bloc are expected to win comfortably.
Putin also blames the US for the monitoring group the OSCE’s decision to boycott the poll.
He claimed it was done on the recommendation of the State Department and said it could harm relations with America.
The OSCE pulled out citing obstruction by Russian authorities.
One of those held briefly yesterday was Boris Nemtsev of the Union of Right Forces party.
He is also a candidate in next year’s presidential elections.
“We insist that Russia should have a lawful state and not the lawlessness that Putin is creating,” he said. Russia should be a socially-based market economy like other European models,” he said.
Another Putin rival, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, remains in jail after being given a five-day sentence for taking part in a banned march in Moscow.
Authorities portray his and other small opposition parties as Western-backed remnants of the chaotic 1990s.
Polls indicate most Russians agree with them.