Russian activists gathered at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square – on the anniversary of an anti-Putin protest that ended in violent clashes with police and several arrests.
This year’s crowd was smaller and calmer than at the rally held on May 7, 2012, the day Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as president for a third term.
In what some see as a bad omen for this year’s event, a construction worker was killed when equipment fell on him as he set up a sound system. The organisers say, sad though the accident was, the protest must go ahead.
Maria Baronova took part in last year’s demonstrations and is still living with the consequences:
“I was the only one who was charged after the house searches. I’m still free but I’m not allowed to leave Moscow and won’t be able to for many years,” Baronova said.
More than 600 protesters were detained and over a dozen faced criminal charges following the 2012 rally. The opposition maintains that the clashes were provoked by the police.