Fresh Russia Protests Under Way Against Putin Victory
Fresh protests are under way in Moscow and other Russian cities following Vladimir Putin’s victory in last weekend’s presidential election.
Several thousand people are lining one of central Moscow’s main avenues, with correspondents saying turnout could be the key to future opposition strategy.
A wave of protests was sparked last December by evidence that parliamentary elections had been rigged.
Similar allegations have surrounded the presidential vote.
Foreign states have accepted Mr Putin’s election for a third term but observers said the poll had been skewed in his favour.
The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Moscow says some opposition leaders are playing down expectations of a huge turn-out on Saturday, partly because their movement has failed to stop Mr Putin securing another term.
The Moscow protest is taking place on Novy Arbat, a vast avenue lined by 1960s skyscrapers.
There had been debate about where these protests could take place. The opposition wanted the Moscow protest in Novy Arbat and the city authorities agreed to it. But this is a very big venue. If there are not that many protesters, the camera shots will show how much the opposition movement has shrunk.
This is therefore a key test for the opposition. If they get the numbers, they may have the momentum to continue with these street protests. But otherwise they may change tactics. Will they create political parties? Will there be a faction that takes more radical action?
Everything is up in the air at the moment and there is probably quite a lot of division within the opposition movement itself about how to move forward.
Our correspondent says several thousand have so far gathered, with more arriving.
The city authorities have allowed a rally of up to 50,000 people.
On a cold but sunny Moscow day, demonstrators waved banners and wore white ribbons - the symbol of the protest movement.
Protest organiser Vladimir Ryzhkov told the crowd: “These authorities are illegitimate. The same people are in power, the same people who took away our right to choose, the same people who destroyed freedom of speech and political competition.
“We will continue to demand deep political reforms and new elections.”