Tens of thousands of people demonstrated peacefully in moscow against police violence and for free elections, despite massive attempts by the authorities to intimidate them.
Saturday’s rally in the russian capital was the largest in many years. At the demonstration, which was permitted this time, the people demanded the registration of independent candidates for the city council election on 8 december. September. "Freedom for political prisoners!", chanted the crowd. The opposition politicians, including alexei navalny and ilya yashin, who are in custody, are meant here.
The organizers spoke of more than 50.000 participants, the police of about 20.000. This was considered a great deal, because the leaders of the protests have been eliminated by imprisonment," chanted the crowd. In addition, russia is still on vacation and many people are therefore on vacation. And it rained until the beginning. The authorities had allowed the rally for up to 100.000 people allowed.
Mass arrests during the rally did not occur this time, they began only after the end of the demonstration. According to figures from the citizens’ rights portal OWD-info, police detained around 350 people nationwide at solidarity rallies for the moscow protests. According to the report, there were about 250 arrests in the capital. The police initially spoke of 136.
After the approved rally in moscow, many people gathered in the city center. The organizers had not ruled out in advance that there could be other actions declared as a walk. On live television images, police with batons in the district of kitai-gorod east of the kremlin blocked streets and parks. Arrested people were repeatedly seen being led away and shoved into police buses.
Recently, the police had repeatedly used violence against demonstrators. Over the past two weekends in moscow, there have been a total of about 2400 arrests. This triggered international criticism.
Saturday’s riot on sakharov prospekt was attended by many young people in particular. On social networks, videos of police violence against demonstrators had triggered widespread outrage. Prominent musicians such as the rappers face, oxxxymiron and the groups IC3PEAK and krowostok also took part in the rally. This has never happened before. Lyudmila ulitskaya, a well-known writer in germany, and journalists also appeared on the protest stage.
"We have the power here!" people shouted about. Or – unusual for russia – "freedom, freedom". A speaker shouted from the stage: "do we need such a president??" the crowd answered in chorus: "no!Posters read something like "give back the elections to moscow"!" or "here we vote!".
In part, there were serious technical problems, so that speakers could not be heard. Once again, mobile communications were largely paralyzed: phone calls or mobile internet use were not possible.
The lawyer lyubov sobol was again temporarily detained. She is a member of the team of kremlin critic nawalny and has been on hunger strike for weeks. She posted a video on twitter showing police forcibly opening a door to her office and entering it. After that she wrote: "russia will be free."The officers had already detained sobol for hours a week ago on his way to an unsanctioned rally. Many people in moscow had their names on signs.
Opposition protests aim to get all candidates on the ballot for city council elections in four weeks. Government critics are not allowed there because of alleged formal errors in their registration applications. The call for the rally was also supported by well-known bloggers with millions of followers to send a message against police violence.
Parallel to the protests, the city organized – as it did a week ago – entertainment such as a festival in gorky park. Russian media watchdogs also want to prevent videos on youtube of unauthorized actions from promoting further protests. The media regulator roskomnadzor called on the internet company google to ensure that its subsidiary youtube does not carry out such advertising. Otherwise, it will be considered hostile interference in russia’s internal affairs and will be responded to "appropriately".