Youth dissent: A young female protester is dragged away by a security officer in Moscow n Saturday
Candidates were asked to collect 5,000 signatures to stand. This limit was made even harder to match because a signature “means volunteering one’s personal information for the government’s database of opposition supporters”, democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza wrote in the Washington Post.
Many candidates managed to meet the threshold but the electoral commission ruled some signatures ineligible, saying they were unclear or the addresses provided were incomplete, and barred the candidates from taking part.
Opposition groups say the authorities had no reason to rule them ineligible. Electoral officials denied the opposition claims of process malfeasance: “We have no reason to doubt our experts,” commission member Dmitry Reut reportedly, said.
Lyubov Sobol one of the opposition candidates barred from standing, address opposition rally
“Military” style tactics as reaching a “new low” – Baton-wielding riot cops clash with protesters in the Russian capital of Moscow on saturday July 27
Police wrestled with demonstrators around the mayor’s office, often charging into the crowd with their batons raised.
Amnesty International described the security force’s “military” style tactics as reaching a “new low”.
Natalia Zviagina, Director of Amnesty in Russia, said: “Russian authorities hit a new low by imposing military law-like security measures on the unsanctioned rally, blocking access to major Moscow streets and shutting down businesses.
“We demand that the Russian authorities conduct an immediate, full and effective investigation into these incidents and ensure that the victims of police violence gain retribution in competent courts.
“All peaceful protesters must be immediately released; no one should be imprisoned for merely exercising their rights to expression and peaceful assembly.”
‘Protesters are security threat’ – Moscow Mayor: Amnesty International accused Putin’s forces of using military law tactics
Bloodied face of opposition: Dozens were seriously injured in Saturday’s street clashes, as the people took to the streets protesting against the exclusion of opposition candidates from local polls.
State news agencies Tass cited police as saying 1,074 were arrested over the course of the protests, which lasted more than seven hours. Monitors reported 1,127 detentions.
Moscow’s Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has called the demonstration a “security threat”, and promised to maintain public order.
Anger is widespread among opposition supporters at the way the city is run and the ruling United Russia party.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was jailed for 30 days on Wednesday after calling for Saturday’s unapproved demonstration.
People were protesting against the exclusion of opposition candidates from local polls. The opposition say they were barred for political reasons.
Authorities had declared it illegal and sought to block participation, but several thousand people turned up anyway in one of the longest and most determined protests of recent years.
Chants of “Russia without Putin” and “Putin resign” echoed through central Moscow as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters.
At least one woman and a man appeared to have suffered serious head wounds.
Saturday’s events showed how activists and especially younger people remain intent on pressing to open Russia’s tightly-choreographed political system to competition.
Chants of “Russia without Putin” and “Putin resign” echoed through central Moscow as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters. At the end of the seven-hour protests more than 1,000 people were forcibly detained by the authorities
Demonstrators against president Putin’s total grip on power were beaten and dragged away by police in Moscow on Saturday
Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny had called the protest to persuade officials to allow opposition-minded candidates to run in a September 8 vote.
Authorities say they were barred because they failed to collect sufficient genuine signatures in their support.
The opposition has no seats in parliament and is starved of air time on state TV where the main source of news for most Russians.
Opinion polls in the past have shown support for Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist, only in the single digits.
But backers note he won almost a third of the vote in a 2013 Moscow mayoral race and say his movement could build momentum in the Russian capital if allowed to compete fairly.
Riot police in Moscow used batons Saturday, as they crashed on the protest in support of the candidates barred from participation in the city parliament election. State news agencies Tass quoted official police reports that 1,074 were arrested
Chants of ‘Putin resign’ echoed through central Moscow as protesters surged around the Mayor’s office on Saturday afternoon
Caged: A detained political activist peers out from behind the barred window of a police bus in Moscow on Saturday
Though Putin’s approval rating is still high at well over 60 per cent, it is lower than it used to be due to discontent over years of falling incomes.
Last year, the 66-year-old former KGB intelligence officer won a landslide re-election and a new six-year term until 2024.
Burnishing his man of action image, Putin spent today diving to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland in a mini-submarine to honour a Soviet sub that sunk there in WWII.
Under Russian law, the location and timing of such protests needs to be agreed with authorities beforehand, something that was not done for Saturday’s event.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a Putin ally, had warned beforehand that authorities would act decisively against the risk of “serious provocations”.
The wave of police searches and detention of opposition activists had one Russian paper writing that “political terror in Russia is flourishing” , warning that “one day the terror will rebound on those who started it”.
Huge crowd link hands protesting against the exclusion of opposition candidates in local polls
Accused of using force to muzzle opposition “having failed to counter it with political means”, The Russian authorities push back at attendees of the planned protest, which authorities labelled illegal earlier this week
Alexei Navalny, who addressed the crowds last Saturday, is not one of the candidates, although he stood in Moscow’s mayoral elections in 2013 and won 27% of the vote in a result he disputed.
The head of the Central Election Commission of Russia, Ella Pamfilova, met with candidates for deputies of the Moscow City Duma, who were not allowed to participate in the elections due to a marriage in signatures.
At the meeting, she stated that, for the CEC decision, rallies “had no value”, and it was impossible to register all independent candidates because of the law. “It doesn’t matter, not even a bit of it, she said, dismissing the demonstrations as “political”.
Head of the electoral commission, Ella Pamfilova, [photo], dismissed the demonstrations as “political”. Protests would not change their decisions. “It doesn’t matter, not even a bit of it, she said
The authorities banned this Saturday’s rally on the grounds that there were threats of violence against the commission.
Continuing the crackdown on opposition, police then raided the homes of several opposition politicians, and called them in for more questioning.
Election candidate and opposition leader Dmitry Gudkov tweeted that the council had “died under Putin”.
“The last illusion that we are able to participate legally in politics has disappeared.”
Some newspapers also denounced the raids.
Novaya Gazeta ran the headline Moscow City Terror on Friday, while Vedomosti said authorities were using force to suppress the protest “having failed to counter it with political means”.