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Over 130 detained in Moscow after protesters break off from peaceful rally to walk the streets

Over 130 detained in Moscow after protesters break off from peaceful rally to walk the streets
Dozens of arrests were made in Moscow after groups of activists heeded calls for unauthorized protest walks through central streets. It follows the opposition rally that gathered tens of thousands and went off without incident.

A rally in support of opposition candidates, who’d been barred from the Moscow City Council election over paperwork irregularities, concluded Saturday evening with conflicting attendance estimates, ranging from 20,000 to 50,000. Not everyone went home after the event on Sakharov Avenue was over, however.

Several hundred people marched from the downtown Moscow’s main rally site deeper into the city center, making their way to Maroseika Street and the surrounding areas – full of restaurants and clubs and within walking distance from the Kremlin – to continue their protest there, chanting anti-government slogans.

Scores of riot police in helmets and bulletproof vests arrived on site and blocked the traffic on the street.

They used loud speakers to persuade the protesters to disperse. Those who refused the appeal were arrested en masse. At least 136 were detained “for various violations,” according to the Interior Ministry. Conflicting unofficial figures claimed nearly twice as many detentions were made.

Calls to go on “peaceful walks” after the Saturday rally appeared on social media in the run up to the event. Police and authorities warned that any unsanctioned marches would be immediately curbed, citing public security concerns.

Lyubov Sobol, an unregistered opposition candidate who got rejected over alleged signature collection fraud, was detained ahead of the rally. Masked police broke down the door to the premises used as her HQ and proceeded with the search and the arrest, with the Interior Ministry later explaining that “some organizers” of the Saturday event informed them Sobol was preparing provocations. Elena Rusakova from the opposition party Yabloko then accused the police of lying, listing the organizers who, she said, did not report Sobol to authorities in a Facebook post.

A member of Sobol’s team, addressing protesters from the stage at Sakharov Avenue later on, urged people to go on an unsanctioned march and was detained after finishing his speech.

Also on rt.com Tens of thousands rally in Moscow in support of candidates barred from city council election

Moscow has witnessed several unauthorized rallies over the past few weekends, after some opposition figures called on their followers to take to streets and storm the City Council over the disqualified candidates. Scuffles during the protests were met with a strong police response, with over 2,300 arrested. The vast majority of them were fined and set free, but some of the activists, who faced charges of provoking mass unrest and public disturbances, remain in custody.

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