Saturday’s demonstrations in Moscow were the biggest since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The tens of thousands who took to the streets alleging ballot-rigging in last weekend’s parliamentary election may not be an immediate threat to Vladimir Putin, but they were an unprecedented wake-up call for the prime minister.
It was not just the widespread disbelief that the elections were free and fair. Many had had enough of a system that in their eyes has allowed Putin’s reign to become entrenched, spanning over a decade as president and prime minister.
The protesters are demanding a re-run of the election that returned the ruling United Russia party to power. In other cities too there were smaller demonstrations.
“MPs, we didn’t choose you” read one large banner on a bridge over the Moscow River.
Euronews correspondent in the capital, Denis Loktev, said:
“The Moscow demonstration dispelled people’s worst fears and became the Russian opposition’s most successful action in years. Now it’s up to the government to choose a response to the demands of tens of thousands of citizens.”