Chants of “Putin is Stalin” and “Russia without Putin” did not stop some protesters in Moscow on May Day from carrying the odd Stalin banner.
The Communists Gennady Zyuganov praised the party’s biggest show of support in 10 years in what he claimed were the first authorised opposition May Day rallies in a decade.
Police were quick to remove a banner showing prime minister Putin kissing former Communist supremo Leonid Brezhnev but otherwise stayed in the background.
Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov joined the opposition ranks in Moscow but separately, heading his “Other Russia” party. There were also shows of support for President Medvedev and Putin.
Nationwide over two and half million people celebrated May Day.