Tens of thousands of Muscovites braved icy weather to march through the centre of Moscow in protest at a new law that bans the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.
Many of them shouted “Putin is a child killer,” and there were also demands for the dissolution of the Russian parliament, as the protesters made their way through central boulevards in temperatures of minus 12 degrees.
Police estimated the crowd at 9000, while the organisers claimed 50,000 came.
The anti-adoption bill was drafted in response to the Magnitsky Act, a US law that bans a number of Russian officials implicated in rights abuses from travelling to the US, and was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin just before the new year.
It has provoked a squall of criticism from many Russians, especially among the opposition movement, which has held a number of major street protests against Mr Putin’s rule over the past year. However, at recent protests the numbers have dwindled, and the high turnout yesterday came as something of a surprise.
Some at the rally said they had not been to any other protests but came today as it was unacceptable to use orphans as political playthings.