630 arrested at Moscow election protest
The decision to bar some opposition candidates for allegedly insufficient signatures on nominating petitions has already sparked several other demos.
More than 600 people are believed to have been arrested in Moscow during a protest against the exclusion of some opposition candidates from an upcoming election to the city council.
The OVD-Info group, which monitors political arrests, said 638 people had been detained in the demonstration that began on Saturday near the mayor’s office and was eventually pushed by police into side streets.
City police said the total number of demonstrators was about 3,500.
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.
Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, called for the protest and was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 days in jail for doing so.
Several opposition members were detained throughout Moscow on Saturday, including Ilya Yashin, Dmitry Gudkov and top Navalny associate Ivan Zhdanov.
There was a heavy police presence at the mayor’s office on Tverskaya Street, one of Moscow’s main thoroughfares, with police trucks and buses parked in the building’s courtyard and other buses positioned nearby to take detainees away.
The decision by electoral authorities to bar some opposition candidates for allegedly insufficient signatures on nominating petitions has already sparked several days of demonstrations this month.
Moscow city council, which has 45 seats, is responsible for a very large municipal budget and is now controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.
All of its seats, which have a five-year-term, are up for election on September 8.