Mass rally in Moscow piles more pressure on Putin

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Mass rally in Moscow piles more pressure on Putin

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They came in their tens of thousands to say the Putin era is over.

A new rally against alleged electoral fraud in Russia has swamped the centre of Moscow. At least 28,000 people took part say police. It was nearer four times that figure, claim organisers.

As he prepares a return to the Kremlin, it keeps the pressure on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose party won a majority in this month’s contested poll.

Ex-chess champion Garry Kasparov and other critics took to the stage.

“Do you want Putin to return to the presidency?” novelist Boris Akunin asked the crowd.

“No!” they cried.

Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin joined the demonstration, demanding an election re-run.

“We need to explain seriously that these elections were not fair and that the people responsible for the falsifications must be judged” he said, urging that the head of the electoral commission be sacked.

While denying vote-rigging, the goverment has made conciliatory gestures. But they are too little too late for the protest movement, which braved sub-zero temperatures, and is convinced it can keep up the momentum.