Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
The police in Moscow arrested hundreds of people for demonstrating outside the city hall. Protesters demand fair elections and the admission of opposition candidates to the city council.
According to the OVD Info Group, an independent monitor tracking police departments in Russia, the police arrested 648 people on Saturday afternoon.
electoral authorities banned opposition candidates because they said they did not have enough valid signatures to nominate petitions. Candidates will need to collect around 5,000 signatures to stand for election. The opposition candidates claim to have been excluded from voting for political reasons.
In the run-up to Saturday's demonstrations, the Moscow police rallied and imprisoned several high-ranking opposition politicians, including Ilya Yashin, Dmitry Gudkov and Ivan Zhdanov. Earlier this week, the authorities arrested one of the most prominent opposition leaders, Alexei Navalny, who called for today's protest. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison.
Moscow NPR correspondent Lucian Kim tweeted: "After nocturnal raids on opposition leaders, the Moscow mayor warns against unauthorized protests today." Take action in full swing. "
After nocturnal raids on opposition leaders, the mayor of Moscow today warns against unauthorized protests. Take action in full swing. https://t.co/CkobG1uv1d[19459014lightboxes-LucianKim(@Lucian_Kim) July 27, 2019
Kim added, "Reason for crackdown: allowing even a few opposition politicians into the Moscow City Council would grant them Legitimacy and visibility – and that could be a slippery slope for further erosion of the Kremlin power. "
The 45-seat Moscow City Council is controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. These seats have a term of five years, and the entire Council stands for re-election on 8 September.
The police presence in front of the mayor's office is still large. The New York Times reports that Moscow is struggling with mounting protests as President Vladimir Putin's approval rating declined as income declined.
As Kim reported earlier this week, "the party has become so unpopular at the national level that Putin ran for reelection as an independent candidate last year." "In the upcoming elections to the Moscow City Council, the members of United Russia have abandoned the party ticket and registered as independents. "
During the protests on Saturday, some protesters shouted," Moscow will be free! "and" Putin is a thief! "
Petrovka, one of Moscow's most upscale streets, was now blocked by demonstrators singing "Putin is a thief" pic.twitter.com/GePZypIUrr
– Ivan Nechepurenko (@ INechepurenko) 27. July 2019
Kim reported that dissatisfaction spread beyond Moscow to places like Pereslavl-Zalessky, a small town 90 miles northeast of the capital.
The orthodox churches with dome, Pereslavl-Zalessky …, are hardly a hotbed of opposition politics. But as Russian President Vladimir Putin approaches his twentieth year in power, anger over the subject of bread and butter is provoking nationwide protests, "Kim wrote." Even in drowsy Pereslavl-Zalessky, with its 40,000 inhabitants, the locals no longer hide their frustration from the powers that exist. "