Smaller crowd at Russian protest

Several hundred demonstrators demanding a re-run of parliamentary elections are in a square in central Moscow for a second weekend of protests against the fraud-tainted vote.

But the turnout on Bolotnaya Square is far smaller than the tens of thousands who thronged there last week as part of nationwide protests that were the largest show of public anger in post-Soviet Russia.

The comparatively small crowd underlines that opposition forces face the challenge of trying to repeatedly assemble crowds large enough to keep up pressure on authorities.

Prime minister Vladimir Putin this week effectively rejected calls to re-run the December 4 election that chose members of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. The new Duma is to have its opening session on Wednesday.