By Alissa de Carbonnel and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya | Reuters – 

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Thousands of Russians chanted “Russia will be free” in a march through Moscow on Tuesday to protest against President Vladimir Putin, shrugging off his tough new tactics intended to quash any challenge to his rule.

Protesters streamed down a leafy central boulevard in the first major rally since Putin was sworn in on May 7, saying they would not be deterred by police raids on opposition leaders’ homes and a new law stiffening fines for public order offences.

“Those who fought are beyond being scared,” said Valery Zagovny, a 50-year-old who served for the Soviet army in Afghanistan and was wearing the medals to prove it. “Let those behind the red-toothed walls of the Kremlin be scared.”

Welcomed by a

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