Police detain hundreds at Moscow opposition protest

04 Août, 2019, 01:47 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Nearly 1,400 people were arrested at an unauthorised protest in Moscow against the exclusion of opposition politicians from local elections in September

However, at least two bands that are listed as scheduled to perform at Shashlik Live - Bravo and Tequillajazz - said they have no plans to take part.

Phalanxes of helmeted riot police linked arms and swept people away on Saturday as activists gathered on Pushkin Square to rally against the exclusion of independent and opposition candidates from the Moscow city council election.

Police gave repeated warnings that officers would take active measures to stop them.

Police detained hundreds of protesters at an unauthorized opposition gathering in Moscow on Saturday, as authorities upped the pressure on top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny by launching a criminal probe into his anti-graft group.

OVD-info said some of the detainees, including a member of the precinct election commission Aleksandr Sviderskiy, reported being beaten by the police. "But this is nowhere near the number we have seen in previous protests", he said.

Mr Navalny had been among those arrested ahead of last weeks protests.

Lyubov Sobol, now three weeks into a hunger strike after being barred from taking part in the local polls, was dragged from a taxi and detained Saturday as she set off for the rally.

Russians have protested since mid-July, with the largest rally having around 20,000 participants.

"I believe everyone should have a right to take part" in the polls, 39-year-old Robert told AFP.

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The Moscow City Duma is controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

The dispute comes as the Kremlin is struggling with how to deal with strongly opposing views in its own sprawling capital of 12.6 million people. All of its seats, which have a five-year-term, are up for grabs in the September 8 vote.

In the past month, the issue has provoked a surprisingly large outcry for a local election.

The Russian opposition vowed to stage another mass rally Saturday despite increasing pressure from authorities, who arrested almost 1,400 people at a protest last week and have launched a criminal probe into the movement.

Addressing the rallies last week, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin stressed that civil order would be enforced in the capital in accordance with the law and warned against any attempts to fuel violent riots.

To create "an impression of lawful possession and use" of criminal money, "the co-conspirators deposited the sum through Moscow's ATMs to accounts at several banks", the committee's spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said, adding that the cash was transferred to the accounts of the FBK afterwards.

There was no immediate response from the group to the allegations, but on Friday, Leonid Volkov, a close aide of Mr. Navalny, responded to speculation that such an investigation was imminent saying on Facebook that the allegations were baseless and accusing the authorities of trying to destroy the organization's network.

Navalny, now in jail, was rushed from his cell to hospital last weekend in an incident his personal doctor said could be poisoning with an unknown chemical substance.

A state toxicology lab said no traces of poison were found.

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