Those who turned out for today's rally in support of Vladimir Putin lacked the fervor of the anti-Putin rallies that have frequently cropped up since December.
Tens of thousands of Russians packed into a downtown Moscow soccer stadium Thursday to shout their support for Vladimir Putin for president and voice their disapproval of other Muscovites who've taken to the streets in recent months to demand democratic reforms.
At least 100,000 people showed up for the midday rally, which appeared better organized but less feisty than recent opposition rallies. Thursday was Defenders of the Fatherland Day, an official holiday in Russia, equivalent to Veterans' Day in the US.
Demonstrators displayed pre-printed signs and banners with slogans such as "We won’t let them ruin the country," "Who, if not Putin?" and "Vote stability – Vote Putin," while powerful sound systems played World War II marching music and other patriotic songs.
IN PICTURES – Putin puts on a show
At the height of the meeting, Mr. Putin appeared onstage and gave a rousing speech that warned of threats to Russia's sovereignty from abroad and promised that Russians would win not only the "battle" of the current presidential elections but also the struggles to solve the country's problems afterwards.