MOSCOW - Thousands of people gathered in Moscow on Saturday to call for a disputed election to be rerun, increasing pressure on Vladimir Putin as he seeks a new term as Russian president.
The protesters were heartened before the second big rally in two weeks by the Kremlin's human rights council saying a new election should be held, although it is only an advisory body whose recommendations are regularly ignored by Russia's leaders.
Tens of thousands of people protested in Moscow on December 10 and many more demonstrated across the world's largest country the same day to complain against alleged vote-rigging in the December 4 election won by Putin's United Russia party.
Police said about 5,000 people attended the start of Saturday's rally on Prospekt Sakharova (Sakharov Avenue), named after Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov. But a police source told Itar-Tass news agency the figure was around 20,000.
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