Tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Moscow to both blast and cheer Vladimir Putin as the country's presidential elections campaign officially gets going. Andrew Raven reports.
Tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Russia to denounce Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Braving freezing temperatures, they carry balloons that say "Stop Putin." The march comes on the opening day of Russia's presidential election campaign. Putin is seeking a return to the presidency - a post he held from 2000 to 2008 before constitutional term limits forced him from office. Critics accuse him of stifling dissent and overseeing rigged parliamentary elections in December. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) OPPOSITION SUPPORTER, ANATOLY, SAYING : " Only the blind could not see. Only the deaf could not hear. We are intelligent people. This is the sixth time elections have been held with such corruption." Elsewhere in Moscow, Putin supports held their own rally. They called Putin, who has a cultivated a following as a rugged outdoorsman and stern leader, the best person to guide the country. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) PUTIN SUPPORTER, LEONID KRISCHIKH, SAYING: "Why did I come here to support Putin? Because if there is no Putin, the country will really be ruined, and we will get back to those years which we had with Yeltsin. We might go down like Ukraine. That's why I think that all the people, and I personally, will always and everywhere support Putin." The presidential election is set for early March - and it's a contest Putin is widely expected to win. Andrew Raven, Reuters.