Russian protests start in far east, police on alert

December 10, 2011 11:40

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - A day of nationwide demonstrations against Vladimir Putin and alleged election fraud began in Russia's far east on Saturday, in a test of the opposition's ability to put pressure on the man who has dominated the country for more than a decade.

Witnesses said about 1,000 people protested in Vladivostok on the Pacific coast and RIA news agency said about 20 were detained in Khabarovsk, a city with almost 580,000 people about 30 km (19 miles) from the border with China.

Thousands of people are expected to turn up for rallies in dozens of cities, from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad nearly 7,400 km (4,600 miles) away to the west, in the biggest political protests since Putin came to power in 2000.

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