Mosco — Tens of thousands of Russians staged what a monitoring group called the country’s biggest political protest in eight years on Saturday, defying a crackdown to demand free elections to Moscow’s city legislature.

Police rounded up scores of people after the demonstration in Moscow and at another rally in St Petersburg, and detained a leading opposition figure before it began. But the response from the authorities was milder than the previous week when more than 1,000 protesters were detained, sometimes violently.

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