Around 20,000 people protested in Pushkin Square in central Moscow on Monday against Vladimir Putin’s claim to have won the presidential election.
The demonstration was part of the ongoing movement against Russia’s corrupt and authoritarian regime, which was sparked by huge levels of fraud in the parliamentary elections last December.
Protesters heard speakers from all sections of the opposition. They vowed to continue the fight against the regime. Some advocated occupying the square until their demands were met.
Recent months have seen the biggest grassroots political movement in Russia for many years.
Demonstrations have taken place all over the country with enormous turnouts in Moscow despite the freezing weather.
People are losing their fear of repression and their pessimism over prospects of changing the system.
Putin was elected in the first round with 64 percent of the votes. The opposition argues that the real figure is far lower. The state and mass media largely back Putin.
Many people in Russia are angry at huge levels of corruption, the arrogance of those in power and increasing inequality.
Putin has dominated Russian politics for 12 years. He may remain in power for another 12 years—which would make him the longest serving leader of Russia since Stalin.
A thousand people remained in Pushkin Square after the official protest had ended and attempted to occupy it.
But huge numbers of riot police arrested hundreds as they cleared the square. It was a display of force not seen since the very first days of the movement.
Despite this, the anger has not gone away. Many people do not expect Putin to last for his whole term.
Certainly he will not rule with the ease he did before. Russians are rediscovering the power of mass action.