Nearly 1,400 people were arrested last weekend in Moscow for protesting against the Kremlin’s decision to bar independent candidates from running for election in Moscow’s city Duma (Walker). While the police let go many of these people without much fuss, around 150 people remain in custody.
The protests were organized in response to independent candidates being barred from running in city council elections in Moscow. Candidates were required to get 5,000 signatures to run for office. Many of the candidates said that they have been barred from the elections for political reasons (Van Sant). NPR correspondent Lucian Kim commented that by letting opposition politicians into an election, they would be given legitimacy. This legitimacy would exacerbate the issues that the Kremlin is facing with continuing to hold control over the Russian people.
Prior to the protests, several opposition leaders were investigated and arrested, including Alexander Navalny—who was sentenced to 30 days in jail for initiating a protest (Associated Press) and Dmitry Gudkov, who was barred from running for city council (Heintz). While Russian police reported that there were about 3,500 people protesting in Moscow, aerial footage indicated that about 8,000 people showed up for the protest.
Previously, protests in Moscow over Putin’s reelection in 2012 brought anywhere from 35,000 to 120,000 people to Moscow to call for a rerun of the election. While several opposition leaders were in attendance, there were no serious incidents that were reported (Parfitt) with a deployment of 9,000 officers.
The recent protests over the weekend were met with the Russian police force being accused of using excessive force as well as having general complaints around the city of riots and standstill traffic. The protests have been called a security threat by the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin (Rainsford).
Associated Press. “Nearly 1400 Detained in Moscow Anti-government Protests.” 1 NEWS NOW. July 28, 2019. Accessed August 01, 2019. https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/nearly-1400-detained-in-moscow-anti-government-protests.
Heintz, Jim. “Russian Police Crack down Violently on Moscow Protesters, Arresting Nearly 1,400 People.” Chicagotribune.com. July 28, 2019. Accessed August 01, 2019. https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-nw-moscow-protests-crackdown-20190727-bxe4uyzzkzennhdfdlrtv3eyoi-story.html.
Parfitt, Tom. “Anti-Putin Protesters March through Moscow.” The Guardian. February 04, 2012. Accessed August 01, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/04/anti-putin-protests-moscow-russia.
Rainsford, Sarah. “Russia Launches Probe into ‘mass Unrest’ at Moscow Protest.” BBC News. July 30, 2019. Accessed August 01, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49169706.
Walker, Shaun. “Moscow Police Arrest Hundreds of Protesters Ahead of Election.” The Guardian. July 27, 2019. Accessed August 01, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/27/moscow-police-arrest-up-to-200-ahead-of-election-protest.