Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Russian capital to call for the release of political prisoners.
Massive anti-government protests petered out last year but the organisers hope to revive momentum by focusing on the plight of a dozen lesser-known activist who were arrested during a Moscow protests last year.
“I came as usual to protest against the things that are happening in our country. And this is my banner. I think Putin has stolen freedom, justice, elections from Russian,” explained one demonstrator.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s mayor’s office staged a carnival celebrating Independence Day but the parade passed through largely empty streets.
“I think the opposition are just people who are not patriots of their own country. They should have come to this parade instead of holding an anti-Putin march,” said one on-looker.
While the Independence Day carnival was rather short-lived, the opposition claimed that up to 30,000 people would join their march later on Wednesday.