Tens of thousands of protesters held anti-corruption rallies across Russia today in a new show of defiance by an opposition that the Kremlin had once dismissed as ineffectual and marginalised.
Nearly 1000 thousand were arrested — including opposition leader and protest organiser Alexei Navalny, who was seized outside his Moscow residence while heading to the rally in the city centre and sentenced to 30 days in jail several hours later.
The Moscow protest was the most prominent in a string of more than 100 rallies in cities and towns stretching through all 11 of Russia's time zones — from the Pacific to the European enclave of Kaliningrad — with many denouncing President Vladimir Putin.
Thousands of angry demonstrators thronged to Tverskaya Street, a main avenue in the capital, chanting "Down with the czar" and singing the Russian national anthem.
The protests coincided with Russia Day, a national holiday that this year brought out historical re-enactors, some of them dressed in medieval costumes.
More than 800 people were arrested in Moscow, while in St Petersburg, about 500 were forced into police buses at an unsanctioned rally that drew up to 10,000 people.
Although it was not immediately clear if today's protests were larger than those in March, they underlined the deep dismay with the government.
Putin is expected to seek another term in 2018, and Navalny has already announced his intentions to run.