Hundreds of cars carrying anti-Putin protesters drove through Moscow on Sunday. The vehicles were adorned with white ribbons and balloons which have become symbolic of the largest protest movement against Putin’s 12 year rule.
The presidential election expected to reinforce his grip on power will be held on March 4.
Among the demonstrators were prominent opposition politicians. “Of course one car race will not solve the problems of Russia,” said Boris Nemtsov of the People’s Freedom Party, “but little strokes fell great oaks. This is true. No doubt we have lots of different protests ahead of us. We will have to fight for a long time. No one will give us freedom.”
There are large differences of opinion over how many cars took part in Sunday’s protest. The police put the figure at around 150 but the organisers claim around 2000 vehicles were involved.
Anti-Putin rallies started after a disputed election in December gave a slim majority to his United Russia party.
Sunday’s protests followed a similar pro-Putin demonstration on Saturday night. Motorists drove cars along the main Moscow ring road carrying pictures of Putin and Russian flags.
His supporters claim he led Russia out of the chaos after the collapse of the Soviet Union.