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Thousands defy protest ban in Moscow and march against Putin's government

Thousands defy protest ban in Moscow and march against Putin's government
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By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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Weeks of demonstrations over elections for the city legislature have turned into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013, when protesters took to the streets against perceived electoral fraud.

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Thousands of pro-democracy activists have taken to Moscow's streets for another Saturday of protest against Vladimir Putin's government, defying a ban which has been enforced with arrests during previous demonstrations.

They're demanding that elections to the city legislature that are scheduled for September 8th are held freely and that opposition figures are allowed to stand.

Lyubov Sobol, who has been banned from standing, led the protest in defiance. Last time she attempted to join a protest she was arrested before she got there.

Chanting "Russia will be free!" and "This is our city!", up to 2,000 protesters marched through one of Moscow's thoroughfares.

Protesters are now also calling for the release of activists detained during previous rallies.

Saturday's protest is the last before the vote and it was smaller than some of the previous ones which attracted tens of thousands of people.

During the first hour of the rally, police made no attempt to detain protesters but asked them through loudspeakers to disperse.

Weeks of demonstrations have evolved into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia for several years.

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