Russian news media reported an estimated 5,000 people turned out in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, the largest crowds since demonstrations in 1991 calling for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Protest organizers estimated 4,000 participants in the southwestern Siberian city of Omsk, and 2,000 in Irkutsk, in eastern Siberia, though the police estimates in those cities were less than half.
In the eastern city of Kazan, a permit was for 7 a.m., a markedly early hour in a country that generally gets going around 10 a.m. The authorities had told organizers that anything later in the day would interfere with a major soccer match. Protesters showed up anyway.
In addition to their resolve, the protesters displayed a sly mastery of modern political organization. The demonstration in Vladivostok, a port city in Russia’s far east, nearly 4,000 miles away from Moscow, resembled a social-media-driven flash mob more than a traditional political rally.
Their approach had its drawbacks: Without a public address system, people could not hear what was being shouted from a makeshift podium hastily installed near a bronze statue of Lenin. Still, when it looked as if the riot police were about to intervene, supported by camouflage-clad Cossacks — thuggish men carrying horsewhips — the crowd nimbly decamped. Protesters quickly marched through the center of the city unmolested to another site, where the demonstration continued until more police officers moved in to snatch people suspected of being the organizers.
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