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The Kremlin, meanwhile, has gone on the offensive by pushing through repressive legislation aimed at severely restricting opposition activity.

Opposition leaders and ordinary activists alike face criminal charges that could carry 10 years in prison.

The euphoria of last winter’s irreverent and mostly middle-class protest movement has been replaced with a lingering sense of powerlessness and despair.

Two thirds of Russians are “disenchanted” with Mr. Putin’s government, according to an October study by the Center for Strategic Research, a Kremlin-connected think tank, suggesting discontent goes far beyond supporters of the opposition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports