Moscow (AFP), 27 July, 2019 -
Police arrested more than 800 people as they gathered in Moscow on Saturday to demand fair local elections, a protest monitor said, following the latest in a wave of demonstrations after authorities blocked opposition candidates from the ballot paper.
Around 3,500 people took to the streets for the unauthorised rally, according to official figures. Several of the arrests were violent and police used batons against protesters, AFP reporters at the scene saw.
The demonstration came a week after the capital’s biggest protest in years, when some 22,000 marchers called on officials to reverse rulings and allow opposition activists to stand for the city council in September.
Since then investigators have raided the homes and headquarters of several disqualified candidates, while top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was jailed for 30 days for calling the fresh protest.
“Honestly, I’m scared,” 42-year-old IT worker Alexei Sprizhitsky told AFP at the demonstration on Saturday.
He said the last time he had seen this level of pressure on activists was in 2012, when President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin after four years as prime minister sparked popular dissent.