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Russians demand new elections, protest Putin's rule

Mikhial Metzel / AP

Demonstrators shout during a mass rally to protest against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 10. Russians angered by allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections are protesting Saturday in cities from the freezing Pacific Coast to the southwest of Russia, eight time zones away, a striking show of indignation, challenging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's hold on power.

From msnbc.com staff and news service reports:

Protesters waved banners such as "The rats should go!" and "Swindlers and thieves - give us our elections back!" in cities from the Pacific port of Vladivostok in the east to Kaliningrad in the west, nearly 7,400 km away.

Anton Golubev / Reuters

Interior Ministry officers stand guard during a rally to protest against violations in the parliamentary elections near St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Dec. 10. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of cities across Russia on Saturday to demand an end to Vladimir Putin's rule and to complain about alleged election fraud in the biggest show of defiance since he took power more than a decade ago.

Riot police were out in force with dogs and in trucks, but they did little to douse protests that showed a groundswell of discontent with Putin as he prepares to reclaim the presidency next year, and anger over the December 4 election which the opposition says was rigged to favor his United Russia party.

"Today 60,000, maybe 100,000 people, have come to this rally," former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov said in a speech to flag-waving and chanting protesters packed into Bolotnaya Square across the Moscow River from the Kremlin.

"This means today is the beginning of the end for these thieving authorities," said Kasyanov, who now leads an opposition movement which was barred from the election.

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Yuri Kadobnov / AFP - Getty Images

Opposition activists protest at the Bolotnaya Square in central Moscow, on December 10, 2011.Tens of thousands of election protesters turned out today in Moscow and other major cities across Russia in open defiance to strongman Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule.

Thousands of anti-voting fraud demonstrators turn out in the streets of Moscow, Russia, to voice their displeasure over recent elections. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.