Protests against President Vladimir Putin have been staged in Moscow with tens of thousands of anti-Putin men and women taking to the streets in what they called the "March of Millions" despite Kremlin's attempts to thwart the demonstrations.

Official reports put the crowd at around 14,000 although the activists said not less than 50,000 people thronged Moscow's central boulevards.

The protests are mainly against the recent elections which activists say were rigged in favour of Putin. "We have to defend our rights, which we were deprived of, the right to have elections. We're deprived of honest elections and an honest government.

I'm coming to show that and to demonstrate that the people are opposed. I'm opposed to illegitimate government and illegitimate elections," said the opposition activist Alexander Shcherbakov.

Putin is also under fire for lack of enough democracy and alleged corruption and repression. The protests have drawn a mix of academics, students, leftists and other activists across the social spectrum. Some of them carried balloons donning ski masks representing the Pussy Riot punk band whose members have been put behind bars for pulling off an anti-Putin caper.

Analysts say the protesters' number was significant but not enough to send alarm bells ringing in Kremlin.

Addressing the rally, far-left leader Sergei Udaltsov said: "The summer has gone, three months since our last march. Not a single demand has been met ... on the contrary; repressions have only gathered pace, more people have been arrested."

The peaceful protesters chanted slogans against Putin like "Russia without Putin" and "We are the power here."

More than 7,000 police officials and a helicopter have been deployed to make sure the protests do not turn violent. The protests took place only after they were officially allowed by the authorities concerned after having several rounds of talks with them.

One of the anti-corruption crusaders spearheading the rally, Alexei Navalny, told the crowd: "We must come to rallies to win freedom for ourselves and our children, to defend our human dignity. We will come here as to our workplace. No one else will free us but ourselves."

A similar protest in June also attracted a large number of people.

Ever since as Putin returned to power in May, there has been a clampdown on opposition activists. Several of them have been slapped with criminal investigations and raided.

An opposition supporter wears a mask in support of members of the female punk band Pussy Riot during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
People shout slogans during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Left Front opposition movement leader Udaltsov speaks through a loud-hailer during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
A man holds a basket with mannequins wearing masks, similar to the ones used by members of the female punk band Pussy Riot, during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
A man salutes near the stage during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Men provoke opposition supporters while demonstrating a U.S. flag during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Prominent anti-corruption blogger and opposition leader Alexei Navalny sits on the stage during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Opposition supporters stand in front of the stage during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Opposition supporters stand in front of the stage during the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Opposition supporters take part in the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Opposition supporters take part in the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters
Opposition supporters take part in the "March of Millions" protest rally in MoscowReuters