Thousands protest against the likelihood of Vladimir Putin's victory in the presidential polls. Jessica Gray reports.
Thousands join hands around Moscow city centre on Sunday to protest Vladimir Putin's likely return to the presidency in next week's polls. Many wore white ribbons symbolising the biggest anti-government demonstrations since Putin came to power. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) OPPOSITION LEADER YEVGENIA CHIRIKOVA "We can achieve the most important thing - changing the consciousness of the people. Our battle is not a battle for power, but for changing the consciousness of the people. People should understand that 'you have to get the slave out of yourself,' that's what Chekhov said." Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov accused the ruling party, United Russia, of corruption and swindling the public for its own gains. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) OPPOSITION LEADER BORIS NEMTSOV "The authorities are scared of the peaceful and proud people. The authorities are afraid of the people they can't buy. The authorities love flunkies, cynics and people who are for sale, and those who stand there proudly and not afraid of anything, they are death for the authorities. So that is why the more we are, the faster we will get rid of those thieves and swindlers." Meanwhile, a handful of Putin supporters gave out ribbons and hearts in the capital. This man says Russia's opposition, which is growing in popularity, is trying to skew voters' perceptions. The anti-government protests began last December after opposition leaders accused Putin of rigging a recent parliamentary vote. Jessica Gray, Reuters