Anti-Putin rally in Moscow draws thousands
12 June 2012
Tens of thousands of Russians took to Moscow's tree-lined boulevards today in the first massive protest against President Vladimir Putin's rule since his inauguration in May.
Since embarking on his third presidential term, Putin has taken a stern stance toward the opposition, including signing a repressive new bill last week introducing heavy penalties for taking part in unauthorized rallies.
Police on Monday searched opposition leaders' apartments, carting away computers, cellphones and other personal items. They also demanded that opposition leaders come in for questioning Tuesday just an hour before the rally began, widely seen as a crude attempt by the government to scare the protesters.
The march was being held on Russia Day, a national holiday that honours June 12, 1990, when Russian lawmakers decided that Russian laws should take priority over Soviet Union laws. The Soviet Union then collapsed in 1991.
Leftist politician Sergei Udaltsov snubbed the summons, saying he considered it his duty to lead the protest as one of its organizers. Russia's Investigative Committee said it wouldn't immediately seek his arrest but would interrogate him later.
Udaltsov said he and another opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, were handed summons by police right at the rally.