In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Maria Nizhivenko talks to the Associated Press in Tambov, Russia. (AP Photo/Nataliya Vasilyeva)
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The city of Tambov in southern Russia is one of those sleepy, provincial centers that have in the past been the heartland of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.A wave of anti-corruption protests that rocked Russia's 11 time zones Sunday was stunning for Putin's authoritarian rule, both in its scale and its demography: The protests, previously contained to the country's cosmopolitan cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, spilled over to provincial towns and were spearheaded by people in their 20s and even teenagers who were once thought to be Russia's most apolitical generation.The protest in Tambov had been banned by authorities.Tambov, more than 400 kilometers southeast of Moscow, lacks independent media or high-profile opposition figures and is not your typical hotbed of dissent.The ruling United Russia party won 63 percent of the vote here last year and Vladimir Putin garnered 72 percent in 2012 . Sunday's protests in dozens of Russian cities, from the western exclave of Kaliningrad to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk 7,500 kilometers to the east, were largely prompted by a call from opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, who last month released an hourlong video documenting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's alleged corrupt wealth.
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