MOSCOW - 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.
The nascent protest movement now intends to hold a self-proclaimed "March of Millions" on Sunday that was authorised by the city after weeks of negotiations but was officially limited to just 5,000 people.
But a broad coalition of Putin supporters said they needed no permission from Moscow officials to bring out 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 formally timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Putin's decision to create a new pro-government 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 Aexei Mironov told Russian news agencies.