Thousands marched in St. Petersburg against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s likely return to the Russian presidency in the March 4 elections. The demonstration held a large symbolic meaning since St. Petersburg is Putin’s hometown and the country’s second-largest city. Thousands are planning to demonstrate in Moscow on Sunday as well. “The event on March 4 cannot be called an election,” said Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny. The crowd chanted “Russia without Putin” and “Putin is a thief” while police helicopters flew overhead. Putin served the maximum two terms as president before handing over the role to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, four years ago—but Putin angered the country when he announced last year that he would switch jobs with Medvedev as if it were a foregone conclusion.
RUSSIA EPA / Landov