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Russian protesters call for release of political prisoners

Up to 20,000 Russian opposition supporters have protested  against the Kremlin, demanding the release of political prisoners.

Protests exactly a year ago in the same square the day before Vladimir Putin’s third presidential inauguration ended in violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Participants in Monday’s rally, which went peacefully amid heavy police cordons, urged the authorities to free more than two dozen people facing criminal charges over their involvement in the protest last year.

Since Putin returned to office, authorities have taken legal action against opposition activists, and the Kremlin-controlled parliament has quickly approved a series of repressive bills that sharply increased fines for participation in unauthorised rallies and imposed new restrictions on civil society activists.

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