Opposition columns start march in Moscow center

Opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin and Garry Kasparov have arrived at Tverskoi Boulevard in central Moscow and headed the rightwing column of participants in the March of Million protest demonstration.

The columns have started the procession from Pushkinskaya Square toward Sakharov Avenue, where the opposition plans to hold a rally.

Right before the procession started, opposition activists released about two dozens of white pigeons and white balloons into the sky.

The demonstrators are chanting 'Russia Will Be Free' and 'We Are In Power Here'. The column of supporters of rightwing policies started marching first, while the leftwing column took more time. The rightwing column includes members and activists of the Party of People's Freedom (PARNAS), Civil Front, and Solidarity. Opposition blogger Alexei Navalny and his wife have also joined this column.

The leftwing column is led by Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, who is chanting mottos through a megaphone. People marching in this column are carrying a banner saying \'Power To Millions, Not To Millionaires'.

Following the Left Front column are activists of the Rot Front movement carrying red flags, a column led by head of the Russian Student Union Artyom Khromov, and members of sexual minorities carrying rainbow flags.

A helicopter is hovering over the procession.

Police earlier estimated the number of participants in the demonstration at 5,000 people. Nemtsov called the figure absurd. Udaltsov said about 15,000 had gathered for the demonstration.

Police have lined up on the pavements along the planned march route.

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