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Russia protests: Moscow rocked by biggest since fall of USSR

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow today over electoral fraud in the biggest protests to hit the capital since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

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Russians gather with signs for a protest in Moscow against allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections.

Mikhail Metzel/AP

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If there was any doubt that significant numbers of Russians are ready to tear up the Putin-era social contract, which exchanges political freedom for relative prosperity, it was dramatically dispelled Saturday.

Ignoring ranks of riot police with unmuzzled dogs, gusting snow, and accusations by Vladimir Putin that protesters are dupes of the United States
 tens of thousands of Muscovites poured into Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin, to vent their anger at alleged fraud and vote-rigging on behalf of the ruling United Russia (UR) party in last weekend's parliamentary elections

Many wore white ribbons, the symbol of the burgeoning anti-fraud movement that erupted onto Moscow streets last Monday after the official vote tally showed UR winning almost 50 percent of the votes, which puts it on track to dominate the State Duma for the next five years.

In pictures: Russian's protest Putin.

Though counts ranged from a police estimate of about 20,000 to up to 100,000, there is no doubt that it was the largest protest rally seen in the Russian capital since the collapse of the USSR twenty years ago.

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