MOSCOW - Russian demonstrators carried a black coffin bearing the word "democracy" through the city of Vladivostok on Sunday at the start of protests against Vladimir Putin on the eve of his return to the presidency for another six years.
The opposition also planned a "march of the million" in Moscow and staged smaller rallies in other cities the day before a lavish inauguration ceremony inside the Kremlin at which the head of the Russian Orthodox Church will bless Putin.
Many Russians are angry that Putin, 59, is extending his already 12-year domination of Russia and fear he will stifle political and economic reform during his new term.
Witnesses said about 100 protesters staged a rally in a central square in the Pacific port of Vladivostok and unfurled a banner declaring "Putin is not our president," a reference to allegations of fraud in the March 4 election that Putin won.
"Putin was illegitimately elected ... We cannot stay silent and watch this disgrace," Boris Nemtsov, a liberal opposition leader, said before the Moscow march got underway.
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