March 6 - Moscow centre shows no signs of last night’s police action against opposition demonstrators, which one analyst says was designed to split the opposition movement. Nick Rowlands reports.
A police truck still stands on the street near Moscow's Pushkin Square, but there are few other signs of Monday's opposition protest challenging the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory. Russians go about their business in the city centre and the square itself stands quiet. Riot police were used to break up protests as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets over Putin's victory in an election which international monitors said was unfair. More than 500 people were arrested, including several opposition leaders. One opposition deputy said the police tactics showed the state is weak. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DUMA DEPUTY AND MEMBER OF 'A JUST RUSSIA' ILYA PONAMARYOV, SAYING: "It was obvious that people had gathered and would have held a calm discussion and in two or three hours would have broken up peacefully. Instead of that, the authorities decided to show they are still strong, that they are still the business - it's clear they are no longer strong." A Moscow analyst said that, after three months of peaceful demonstrations, the change in regime tactics were an attempt to frighten protesters and split the peaceful majority away from those willing to fight. But although Putin is losing patience with the opposition, the restraint showed by police officers suggests he does not want to give his critics the ammunition to depict him as a dictator crushing dissent. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.