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Thousands march in anti-Putin rally in Moscow

Anti-Putin protesters hit the streets in Russia.

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Opposition activists and supporters take part an anti-Putin protest in central in Moscow, on September 15, 2012. Thousands marched today through Moscow to protest against the rule of Vladimir Putin in a test of the opposition's challenge to the Russian president four months after his inauguration. It was also the first mass action since the sentencing of three members of Pussy Riot to two years in prison for an anti-Putin protest in an Orthodox cathedral, which has become a rallying cause for many in the opposition. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands are marching in Moscow as part of major anti-Putin rallies called for by the opposition throughout the nation today, reported Reuters.

Russia Today's liveblog on the protests cited police as saying some 14,000 people had assembled in Moscow's central square for the march, which kicked off at noon local time.  

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The Associated Press said 7,000 security forces were stationed in the capital ahead of the demonstration. 

The rally aimed to bring together Russia's colorful assortment of opposition groups, ranging from anarchists to communists to supporters of the punk band Pussy Riot, according to Russia Today. Three Pussy Riot band members were handed a three-year jail term for staging a performance critical of Putin inside Moscow's main cathedral in a controversial August ruling that saw their cause taken up by activists worldwide. 

Russia's authoritarian government regularly cracks down on dissent. On Friday, a leading opposition figure was voted out of parliament

Protesters shouted slogans like, "Russia without Putin" and waved signs saying things like, "Putin is a parasite," according to Reuters.

Russia Today said activists also held signs reading, "Rights aren't given, they are taken," "'Russia is a secular country, no to religious obscurantism" and "Anarchy: Dreams come true."

The group intends to march near the Kremlin in what is anticipated to be one of the largest opposition protests in recent months, said Reuters.

The Kremlin has dismissed the event, saying it does not represent national sentiment. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120915/thousands-march-anti-putin-rally-moscow