Rival rallies in Moscow ahead of Putin's inauguration

Vladimir Putin supporters unveiled plans on Saturday to draw more than 50,000 people onto the streets of Moscow in a show of force ahead of the strongman's inauguration to a third term as president.

Russia's current prime minister will take back the Kremlin seat he already held from 2000-2008 during a swearing in ceremony on Monday that follows his thumping March 4 election win against only a token opposition.

The margin of his victory took much the steam out of mass protests that swept Moscow in the winter months and seemed to briefly catch the authorities by surprise.

But the nascent protest movement now intends to hold a self-proclaimed "March of Millions" here on Sunday that was authorised by the city after weeks of negotiations but officially limited to just 5,000 people.

A coalition of Putin supporters said they needed no permit from Moscow officials to gather more than 50,000 people for a surprise "celebration" at Victory Park -- a site dedicated to Russia's defeat of Napoleon in 1812.

The event was timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Putin's decision to create a new movement called the All-Russian People's Front (ONF).

The group is tipped to become Putin's primary base of power during the first of what could potentially become two new six-year terms for the 59-year-old leader.

A top city official said Putin's group did not need permission to bring out such large numbers onto a public square because "what they will be having is not a meeting or a march or a protest."

"It will be a mass cultural event," Moscow regional security department head Alexei Mironov told Russian news agencies.

The entire transition of power from outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev to Putin has been tightly scripted over the coming few days.

The winter protests were in large part fuelled by the Soviet-styled job swap agreement that Putin and Medvedev struck last year without any public debate.

The plan will see Putin nominate Medvedev -- picked by the ex-KGB spy to fill his Kremlin seat while Russia engineered constitutional changes that would allow him to run for president again -- for parliamentary confirmation Tuesday.

Medvedev was expected to visit parliament only hours after Putin's swearing in ceremony to complete consultations under which his candidacy would then be swiftly approved on Tuesday after 3:00 pm (1100 GMT).

Russia's two leaders -- their role reversal successfully completed -- were then largely expected to oversee the country's nationally-televised May 9 military parade on Red Square commemorating victory in World War II.

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