Udaltsov’s wife, Anastasia, did appear for questioning, as did anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, television personality Ksenia Sobchak and Ilya Yashin.
Yashin, a youthful liberal leader, said he was ordered to return for questioning later in the week. On Tuesday evening, Nemtsov’s apartment was being searched, as was Navalny’s office. Udaltsov’s questioning was postponed until Wednesday. Yashin feared that criminal charges were being prepared against him, Navalny and Udaltsov, which would be sure to inflame the opposition.
A dozen people have been charged with inciting mass disorder May 6 and could serve up to eight years in jail if convicted.
‘Putin’s a thief’
The protests began six months ago over allegations that parliamentary elections had been rigged. The rallies have since broadened in theme, targeting Putin and his supporters.
“Putin’s a thief,” the crowd chanted Tuesday. “Russia without Putin.”
In a statement marking Russia Day, Putin mixed conciliatory rhetoric with strong support for the status quo.
“Everything that weakens the country and splits its society is unacceptable for us,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency. “It is important to listen to and respect each other, to seek mutual understanding and find compromises, to rally society around a positive, creative agenda.”
Elena Volkova, a 50-year-old writer who had come to the rally with her mother, was not reassured.
“We have to be here today,” Volkova said, “so they won’t be coming for us tomorrow.”
By late afternoon, the rally was almost over, but heavy rain and bolts of lightning hastened its close. Double lines of riot police in full armor had appeared at the rear of the crowd, funneling everyone into the metro, preventing any spontaneous strolls toward the Kremlin.
No one was arrested.