The overarching theme for the day was “Nodoel!” or “Enough!” as in enough of Mr. Putin and his government. Signs and many petitions called on him not to seek a fourth term in next year’s presidential election. He is expected to run, although he has yet to officially declare his plans.
“We have Putin, we don’t need food,” read one sarcastic protest sign in the Siberian city of Tomsk, where some press reports said 500 people had taken part in the event.
Before Saturday, Open Russia announced that it had organized protests in about 30 cities. Over all, the number of participants was smaller than the tens of thousands who turned out in about 80 cities for protests called by the main opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, on March 26. Mr. Navalny has called for more demonstrations on June 12.
In Moscow, the capital, hundreds of people holding petitions lined the sidewalk near the Kremlin administration building between Red Square and Staraya Ploshad, or Old Square. For a little more than two hours starting around 2 p.m., petitioners filed into a government office to present their letters, many of them written on the spot.
In the days before the protest, the government had deployed construction equipment and barriers near the office that handles such letters, leaving organizers to believe the entrance would be blocked.
After word went out that the letters were indeed being accepted, many more people arrived to stand in line. Organizers said that an early count found that at least 1,500 people had presented petitions in Moscow.
“We must participate in such events to show the authority that more and more people whose rights are being violated are against this,” a 30-year-old marketing specialist who identified herself only as Veronika said as she wrote her letter. Many participants were reluctant to give their names because of the legal problems faced by numerous people who took part in previous protests. “I want to live in a country where laws are observed,” she said.
Another protester who declined to give his full name, Aleksandr, 26, said he had tried to start an emergency services company to work in gas fields and had been blocked at every turn. “They keep telling me that they don’t have the budget, maybe because the prime minister stole $70 billion dollars,” he said, referring to recent accusations against Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev in a YouTube video produced by Mr. Navalny.
“The government does not care about ordinary people — about our salaries, medication, our rights, nothing,” Aleksandr said.
Many of those presenting petitions acknowledged that the relatively low turnout and the government’s general indifference meant the protests would probably not have much of an effect. But they said it was time to…