MOSCOW - Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched though Moscow under streaming banners, flags and balloons on Saturday to demand an end to President Vladimir Putin's long rule and to breathe life into their protest movement.

Protesters chanted "Russia without Putin!" as they marched through central Moscow in the first big rally since June.

Witnesses said opposition leaders appeared to have achieved their goal of attracting at least 50,000 people, enough to maintain the momentum of their movement but almost certainly too few to increase alarm in the Kremlin.

The protest underlined anger over what liberal Russians see as tough measures to smother the opposition since Putin began another six years in the Kremlin in May, but protests have not taken off outside big cities and the opposition is not united.

"Our main aim is to force the authorities to start a dialogue. The summer has gone, three months since our last march. Not a single demand has been met ... on the contrary, repressions have only gathered pace, more people have been arrested," far-left leader Sergei Udaltsov said.

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