MOSCOW – Russian investigators searched the homes of several key opposition figures and summoned them for questioning shortly before Tuesday's anti-Putin rally started. Here is a look at some of those leading the protests.
The 36-year-old corruption-fighting lawyer and popular blogger has played a key role in mobilizing Russia's young Internet generation to rally against Vladimir Putin's rule. Charismatic and ambitious, Navalny spearheaded a series of rallies in Moscow during the winter that brought up to 100,000 people into the streets in the run-up to the March vote in which Putin won a third presidential term. He reaches tens of thousands through his blog and has more than 250,000 followers on Twitter.
Navalny has tapped into people's anger over the corruption that pervades public life. After he described Putin's political party as the "party of crooks and thieves," the catch phrase stuck.
The leader of the Left Front opposition movement, 35-year-old Udaltsov has been at the forefront of the anti-Putin protests for several years. A great-grandson of a Bolshevik revolutionary, Udaltsov has consistently defied the authorities, staging unsanctioned marches and rallies. He also launched numerous hunger strikes and spent weeks in hospitals amid concerns about his health.
During his political career, Udaltsov has been arrested more than 100 times and spent months in prison.
Udaltsov refused to show up for questioning on Tuesday and headed right to the opposition march instead.
The 30-year-old socialite, TV host and restaurateur, who often has been described as a Russian equivalent of Paris Hilton, has become the new glamorous face of the opposition. Sobchak is the daughter of the late mayor of St.Petersburg, who was Putin's mentor in the 1990s.
A personal relationship with Putin initially seemed to shield Sobchak from reprisals, but that immunity may have come to an end with a raid on her apartment Monday. She tweeted Monday that an investigator told her that she had made a mistake by mixing up with "bad company." ''I never thought that we would slide back to such repressions," she said.
The 28-year-old member of the leadership of the opposition Solidarity movement has been among the organizers of the recent anti-Putin protests. A fiery speaker, Yashin is a passionate critic of the government.
"A smart government deals with reasons for protest. A stupid government fights protesters," he said on his blog.