Russia’s opposition movement took its anti-President Putin message to the streets again after a three month break from public protest.
Organisers were trying to recreate the kind of momentum that began with huge demonstrations last December, after parliamentary elections that were tainted with claims of vote-rigging.
Opposition leader and former deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov, said: “We came to say a definite ‘no’ to the crooks and thieves. We came to do everything to stop repression. We came to do everything, to have new, honest elections. We will win in any case, there are many of us. They interfere, they try to scare us, but none of it has worked.”
Opposition cries of foul grew louder this week when an MP who turned his back on Vladimir Putin was voted out of the lower house of parliament, the Duma. Gennady Gudkov is convinced it was a Kremlin-inspired move.
“The government are very scared,” he said. “They vacillate between repression and cozying up to the public. We’ll put pressure on them until serious discussions begin.”
Once the official permit for the demonstration expired police moved in to arrest those who refused to end it, among them the left-wing opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, who has been detained more than 100 times before.