Russian bloggers were quick to praise the success of the rally, and swapped news of arrests and videos of election violations online.

“The Facebook revolution,” said the private Dozhd (Rain) television, which broadcasts mainly through the internet and was one of the few Russian channels to follow the protests.

According to newswires, state TV did not report on the demonstrations.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” journalist Sergei Parkhomenko told the website. “This all started with a few posts on Facebook and (blogging platform) LiveJournal.”

The protests aimed to vent frustrations over Sunday’s legislative elections that declared a narrow victory for the Russian prime minister’s party, despite accusations of fraud.

A number of arrests were made during the protests, and those detained are said to include Alexei Navalny (pictured), a growing internet sensation in Russia who specialises in whistleblowing. Navalny’s arrest was confirmed by his wife on his blog and quickly attracted more than 2500 comments.

The anti-Kremlin demonstration was one of the largest in Moscow for years.

LiveJournal’s most followed Russian blogger, drugoi (other), wrote: “The most important outcome of yesterday’s rally is that it not only drew people who usually come out to such events, but also those who never attend them.

“That is what people in the crowd were saying – we are not for your Solidarity (opposition movement), we are against Putin and his United Russia.”

Independent political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin told AFP that the internet is playing an important role in changing people’s attitudes to elections – which also implies an important role in public engagement with politics.