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Young Russians taking the lead in anti-Putin protests

MOSCOW — When almost all the protesters at recent anti-government rallies across Russia went home, teenagers and young adults were the only ones left on the streets.

Young Russians, many born during President Vladimir Putin’s 18-year-long rule, have long been considered one of his most loyal constituents. But increasingly, the government’s anti-Western agenda and reports of widespread corruption are turning the young against the leader.

In the decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union, street protests were led by 50- and 60-year-olds, disenchanted by the free-wheeling capitalism while their children were busy reinventing themselves in a new market economy. But the violent crackdown on a rally in May 2012 and ensuing criminal persecutions of a dozen protesters have scared off older protesters.