As many as 3,000 supporters of Russian opposition groups rallied in the streets of St Petersburg on Saturday against president-elect Vladimir Putin.
The protesters called for free and fair elections, a reference to December’s disputed parliamentary vote and claims of irregularities during the presidential poll earlier this month.
Despite the presence of riot police, no arrests were made or violence reported.
The Russian government has responded to a recent wave of protests by passing a law that makes it much easier to form political parties. Legislation to restore direct elections for provincial governors is also due before parliament.
Meanwhile, the row over Putin’s perceived limitless power has reached the head of Russia’s Orthodox church.
Patriarch Kirill has denounced an all-female punk protest band accusing them of blasphemy after they stormed Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and performed a song called ‘Holy Mother, Hush Putin Away’. Kirill accused the band of desecrating the cathedral.
Three members of the band were arrested after their stunt was caught on videotape and immediately went viral. The group claimed Kirill had taken political sides when he described the Putin era as a “miracle”.