Thousands Gathered for Rallies in Moscow and other Cities, and there are Arrests Again
Despite the rainy weather and the absence of all opposition leaders in Moscow on Andrey Sakharov Boulevard for the third consecutive Saturday, thousands of dissatisfied gathered because of the non-admission of candidates for the September local government elections in the capital. This time, the "regaining the right to vote" event was kept by the authorities, but it drew discontent against the crackdown on law enforcement and President Vladimir Putin's administration in general.
Comparable to 2012, the scale of the protests comes at a time when 20 years have passed since Putin came to power - he was appointed prime minister on 9 August 1999.
According to figures, at 16:00 - shortly before the end of the two and a half hours allowed by the authorities - at least 47,200 people gathered from the independent White Counter organization on the boulevard (MI reported twice less) on request for up to 100,000 participants.
Entering the rally area was delayed by passing through metal detectors. For security checks, some waited between 20 and 40 minutes, sometimes the appliances did not work, sometimes the mode was more liberal and passed quickly. However, the event is the largest protest action in years.
Minutes before the riot police arrested Lyubov Sobol, the only leader to be released, by storming into her office. The official explanation is that the rally organizers warned that she and others were preparing provocations. Arrests and searches also interrupted the transmission of events on the Internet by Navalny Live.
Many, including popular bloggers and rap artists, have urged people to get involved, "because this may be our last free rally." A young participant wearing a Soviet flag explained to Rain TV that he was so eager to say that there was more freedom in the USSR.
The rules are the event does not allow performances of musicians, and the Investigative Committee warned the Russians last night to begin "free walks" on the boulevards after the end of the rally. However, there were music performances and her performers started without anyone holding them. But he arrested Boris Zolotarevsky - the head of the electoral headquarters of the ineligible candidate Ivan Zhdanov - who called at the end of the rally wishing to organize a procession by gathering at one of the metro stations.
"Participation in unauthorized activities has legal consequences, including criminal liability," said the investigation and recalled calls for riots to imprisonment, and minors and parents coming with their children to bear administrative or criminal liability, "which will negatively affect your future".
There were smaller protests in support of Moscow in St. Petersburg and several other cities in Russia. Riot police arrested at least 40 people in the second-largest city, and detentions continued after 15 hours against anyone who raised a poster. Two were also arrested at the Rostov-on-Don procession. Tens to hundreds were participants in solidarity actions in Siberia (Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk) and, and there was a protest in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
Organizers of the Moscow rally on Friday issued a draft resolution calling for the termination of criminal and administrative cases on behalf of participants, Moscow deputies, and candidates for peaceful protests protected by the Constitution and suffrage. The case of the so-called unlawful mass riots have been fabricated, and we demand public investigation and prosecution of those responsible for building a regime of political repression, the document said.
The resignation of Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Chairman of the Moscow Election Commission Valentin Gorbunov to discredit election procedures and lustration for all members of election commissions is another demand. If you do not register candidates independent of the authorities, we will ask for the election results to be canceled, organizers say.
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