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Tens of thousands of supporters from the Kremlin-backed youth movement Nashi,
Tens of thousands of supporters from the Kremlin-backed youth movement Nashi, or Ours, are rallying near Red Square in Moscow in a show of support for President Vladimir Putin, a Nashi spokesman said.

"The primary goal of the meeting is to congratulate the president, who has been recognized national leader," he said referring to United Russia's resounding victory in Sunday's elections. The party's candidate list was headed by Putin.

Police said 30,000 young people, many of whom were wearing Putin portraits, flocked to Vasilyevsky Spusk. Ekho Moskvy radio station said citing witnesses that some of young people were unsure what the rally was about.

The capital's center will be blocked to traffic throughout the day, police said.

Nashi leaders have called on activists "to serve their country," promised that the most talented will study at Cambridge and Glasgow universities, encouraged them to travel more within Russia and join the group's patrols to ensure order in Russian cities.

The group already gathered near Red Square on Monday, immediately after the polls, when thousands of young people were transported in buses to the capital from different regions. Many of them patrolled city center streets "guarding" them against oppositionists, who they claimed had sought to prevent Putin's victory.

International monitors said Russia's parliamentary vote did not meet democratic standards and accused the president of "merging" the party he promoted using administrative resources and the state. They also said legislation amendments introduced during Putin's presidency were undemocratic.

Moscow dismissed the accusations, saying the moves were designed to promote a "strong and efficient civil society," and ensure sustainable growth.

Nashi, founded in March 2005, has been involved in activities such as a recent blockade of Estonia's Embassy in Moscow in response to the ex-Soviet Baltic state's decision to move a Soviet-era WWII monument in the capital, Tallinn.


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