Moscow is braced for what the opposition claims will be the biggest demonstration in Russia for 20 years. Tens of thousands are expected to gather in a square south of the Kremlin, in the latest show of anger over disputed parliamentary polls. Smaller rallies are due to take place in cities across the country. The protesters allege Sunday's elections - which gave Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party a small lead - were fraudulent. Hundreds of people have been arrested during anti-Putin protests over the past week, mainly in Moscow and St Petersburg. At least 50,000 police and riot troops have been deployed in Moscow ahead of Saturday's protests. The opposition says it is hoping for a turnout of 30,000 in the capital in the demonstration dubbed "For Fair Elections", due to begin at 14:00 (10:00 GMT). The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow says that if the protests come even close to expectations, they will shake the 12-year-long political domination of Mr Putin.
The top US military commander, Gen Martin Dempsey, says he is concerned about "the potential for civil unrest" as Europe's financial crisis unfolds. Gen Dempsey said it was unclear the latest steps taken by EU leaders would be enough to hold the eurozone together, adding that a break-up could have consequences for the Pentagon. He suggested that part of his concern was that the US military could be exposed to any unravelling of the eurozone "because of the potential for civil unrest and the break-up of the union". The US military has more than 80,000 troops and 20,000 civilian workers in Europe, many based in Germany.
Sergei Kovalev, whose absolutely disgusting activities in Chechnia earned him the dubious distinction of being one of the most hated persons in the entire country. Bottom line: 'dissidents' and 'human right' activists have exactly zero traction in Russia.
Thousands of people have attended the biggest anti-government rally in the Russian capital Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union
As many as 50,000 people gathered on an island near the Kremlin to condemn alleged ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections and demand a re-run.
Prominent figures at the rally included younger opposition activists like Yevgenia Chirikova, as well as former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under the late Boris Yeltsin.
At least 50,000 police and riot troops were deployed in Moscow ahead of Saturday's protests and the city began to resemble a police state rather than a democracy, Daniel Sandford says.
There were no immediate reports of protest-related arrests in Moscow but police in Kurgan, on the border with Kazakhstan, dispersed an unapproved rally.
Conclusion: this is what the French call a "storm in a glass of water" or, in Shakespeare's words "much ado about nothing". The fact that, unlike in Iran, the demonstrators failed to engage in violence tells me that this entire movement has even less traction than Mousavi's "Gucci Revolution". Think about it - when you represent roughly 0,5% of the population nice and clean demonstration are just not going to get you the attention you want. At this point, you need an innocent "Neda" to really fire up the propaganda and rally more people, you need YouTube videos of cops beating up demonstrators, you absolutely need "proof" of the "barbarity" of the regime. Unless the Russian "Guccis" manage to regroup and get some violence going, I call this entire movement a gigantic flop.
And, just in case, let me repeat something here, just to make sure: I am in NO WAY a Medvedev or Putin fanboy. In fact, my view of them is not unlike my view of Ahmadinejad: they are not the type of political leaders I like, but the opposition to them is much, much worse (at least in Iran it was evil and corrupt, but credible; in Russia they are mostly discredited clowns). And just as in the elections in Iran, I am NOT saying that no cheating took place. I am only saying three basic things:
a) the outgoing government won the elections because a plurality of voters supports it
b) the outgoing government had no need for fraud
c) the so-called opposition does not seek new elections, what it wants is "regime change"