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Thousands of anti-Putin protesters march in Moscow

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MOSCOW — Several thousand protesters marched through central Moscow on Sunday to call for the release of 20 people who were arrested after clashes between police and demonstrators in May 2012.

Some of them face up to 10 years in prison if convicted for the protest, held on Bolotnaya Square on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to a third term as Russia’s president.

Putin’s return to the presidency saw the passing of new laws aimed at cracking down on anti-government protests and restricting non-governmental organizations.

The protesters marched Sunday with portraits of the jailed protesters and a banner stretching across the street reading: ‘‘Freedom to the Bolotnaya heroes, the hostages of Putin.’’

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