Moscow is the "last bulwark against a new global empire of evil," pro-Kremlin speakers tell their audiences, as they accuse the Americans of trying to subjugate Russia after supposedly having done the same to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The protesters, they say, are Washington's henchmen.
Has the spirit of the Arab rebellion reached Russia? Only three months ago, it seemed all but guaranteed that the 59-year-old Putin, who has served as either president or prime minister for the last 12 years, would move into the Kremlin for another 12 years. But now the end of an era is suddenly looming in sight.
It's almost as if the giant country was awakening from a deep sleep, the walls around the Kremlin were crumbling and the taboos of the Putin era were being shattered. Liberals, nationalists and communists are united in their hatred for the eternal Kremlin leader. There is talk of new elections, a coalition government and the release of political prisoners.
"If Putin doesn't come around and change things, it will end in the public squares of the cities," warns former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. And billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who is also running for president, says: "What is happening in Russia is a catastrophe."
The respected film director Stanislav Govorukhin, Putin's campaign manager, compares current events to the days of the czars in terms of their dramatic impact: "They assassinated reformist Prime Minister (Pyotr) Stolypin in 1911, just as Russia was on the verge of becoming a leading industrial power." A similar scenario is repeating itself today, he claims.
There it is again, the fear of revolution and civil war, deliberately stoked by the Kremlin. At a recent rally, the editor-in-chief of the nationalist newspaper Zavtra, likened the color of the Orange Revolution, which swept away the authoritarian regime in Ukraine seven years ago in the aftermath of a rigged election, to "the color of dog piss in the snow." If Putin were toppled and the protesters moved into the Kremlin, he added, the country could face a struggle pitting everyone against everyone, and orange would turn into the "red of blood."
Come Sunday, Russia decides.