500 arrested at Moscow election protest


Russian police wrestled with demonstrators and arrested more than 1,000 people in central Moscow on Saturday at a protest demanding that opposition candidates be allowed to run for the Moscow city council.

More than 50 people in total were detained before the protest was scheduled to begin, while police gathered early to block the streets from demonstrators with police trucks and buses positioned nearby to take detainees away. "Look at what they're doing - the authorities do not like the people".

Ilya Yashin, a Navalny ally, said on Facebook on Saturday that police had searched his Moscow flat overnight before detaining him and driving him out of the Russian capital. Supporters of the opposition party say the government is forcing them out, so they won't be able to participate in the elections. Several of the arrests were violent and police used batons against protesters, AFP reporters at the scene saw.

A Russian organization that monitors political arrests says more than 500 people have been detained in Moscow during a demonstration protesting the exclusion of some opposition candidates from the September 8 ballot for the Moscow city council.

OVD Info, which monitors protests, said at least 317 people had been arrested in the first hour of the demonstration. He had previously claimed that the country's future was at stake due to the barring of opposition candidates from running.

Along with the arrests of the mostly young demonstrators, several opposition activists who wanted to run for the council were arrested throughout the city before the protest.

On Saturday, police stormed a TV studio belonging to Navalny that was live-streaming the protests on YouTube, and arrested Vladimir Milono, who was in charge of the program.

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"If we lose now, elections will cease to exist as a political instrument", said Gudkov, whose home was raided Wednesday.

But after some 22,500 people turned out for a protest in central Moscow last weekend that was approved by city officials - the largest showing at an opposition-led rally in recent years - the authorities decided that enough was enough.

"What we're talking about is whether it's legal to participate in politics today in Russian Federation, we're talking about the country we're going to live in".

Critics say that instead of probing authorities for violating election legislation, investigators launched a probe into obstructing the work of election officials.

If found guilty, organisers risk up to five years in prison.

"Attempts to give ultimatums and organize riots will not bring anything good", Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter Saturday morning, issuing a rare warning in advance of a follow-up protest.

Opposition candidate and lawyer at the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, Lyubov Sobol leaves the Russian Investigative Committee with her lawyer after been summoned for questioning, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 26, 2019.