Moscow Braced For Fresh Protest Amid Clampdown; Other Cities Expected To Join In

August 09, 2019 22:23 GMT

Russian opposition supporters are expected to gather in Moscow on August 10 for their third major rally in as many weeks to press demands that election officials reverse bans on independent candidates in upcoming municipal voting. Police beat protesters with batons and detained more than 2,300 people during two previous, unsanctioned rallies, on July 27 and August 3.

Those scenes sparked condemnation from rights groups and Western governments. But Russian authorities have toughened their treatment of disqualified candidates and carried out raids and detentions that in many cases targeted opposition organizers. Eleven Russians face criminal probes over what authorities have called “mass civil unrest,” a charge that can result in a lengthy jail sentence. Unlike the past two weekend rallies, organizers of the August 10 demonstration received approval from city officials.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused U.S. and German officials of stirring up support for the protests. The string of rallies was sparked by local officials’ decision in early July to bar dozens of independent candidates from elections to the Moscow City Duma, claiming their signature lists were insufficient to get them on the ballot. The opposition say Moscow authorities merely want to deny them the chance to take on pro-Kremlin candidates.

The 45-seat city duma is responsible for a $43 billion municipal budget and is controlled by the pro-Putin United Russia party. All of its five-year-seats are up for grabs in the September 8 vote. Russia’s main election board on August 7 rejected the appeals of several opposition candidates, including hunger-striking Lyubov Sobol, to be allowed on the ballot.

Of the 30 or so candidates barred from the poll, five are affiliated with or work for the anti-corruption foundation established by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. All but one of those Navalny allies, Sobol, are now in jail. Navalny himself is serving a 30-day sentence for violating protest laws.

Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on August 3 it was opening a criminal case against Navalny’s foundation, claiming the organization was suspected of receiving funding with illegal origins. Navalny and his allies say the foundation is transparently financed from public donations. Moscow authorities gave the August 10 rally’s organizers permission to hold an event on Sakharov Avenue, not a major thoroughfare and not the more central location organizers had sought.

The Investigative Committee warned on August 9 of possible “criminal liability” for “peaceful walks” after the authorized event. “Following the calls spread by media, on the Internet and social-media websites, for participation in the so-called ‘peaceful walks’ around Moscow after the August 10 rally in Sakharov Avenue, which was permitted by executive authorities, the Investigative Committee hereby informs that participation in such unsanctioned events entails legal consequences, right up to the criminal liability,” it said in a statement.

Sympathizers with the Moscow protesters are also planning “solidarity” rallies in several other Russian cities, including the country’s fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, and Tyumen in Siberia. Navalny supporters claim that “pickets in solidarity with Moscow” will be held in 40 cities from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok.

Protest organizers in the capital said musicians will perform at their rally, including IC3PEAK, a Moscow-based band that had several concerts canceled by authorities in Russia last year. Yury Dud, a popular Russian YouTuber, has announced he will attend the August 10 Moscow protest, and called on his followers, 2.3 million on Instagram alone, to come out as well. Moscow authorities announced plans earlier this week to hold a “Meat & Beat” festival on the same day as the protest, much like last weekend when Moscow’s mayoral office organized a “Shashlik Fest,” with free food and music.

Federal prison officials have also organized a competition in Moscow involving police drivers, TASS reported on August 9. Russia this week accused the U.S. Embassy in Moscow of meddling in its internal affairs by publishing a map on social media showing the proposed route of the last opposition protest, on August 3. In a statement on August 9, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned a senior U.S. diplomat over the matter.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy. A day earlier, Russia summoned a German diplomat after complaining that Deutsche Welle had urged people to join the protests, a claim the German broadcaster rejected as “baseless.” The U.S. Embassy on August 9 published alerts for U.S. citizens to avoid planned demonstration sites and demonstration-related activities in Yekaterinburg and Moscow. 

In Moscow’s case, it cited “the size of the protest, unknown route or routes of protesters, substantial police presence, and past accounts of excessive use of force by law enforcement.” The expected location of the rally is listed as part of the warning, which is not accompanied by any maps.

(C) RFE/RL

9 comments

  • Get your popcorn ready….

    Liked by 4 people

    • It would be great to see your name come to fruition redders! However, the odds are stacked against it because there is still a lot of support for the evil little scrote; from vested interests, putinoid scum and the vatniks. Also, totalitarian states have a huge range of options open to them to prevent such activities escalating into a revolution. That is why the SU and the chicoms and their evil rulers were pretty much invulnerable. It is possible that, excluding numerous wonderful exceptions such as Nemtsov and Kasparov, that Russia suffers from a collective psychopathy: many of them seem to have no conscience and even take pleasure in the death and misery inflicted by their scum rulers. As usual I hope I’m wrong…..

      Liked by 4 people

      • It’s happening Sir Scradge. Just at a low simmer right now. Normal people stuck in Moskovia are not happy but you’re right, many have given up. Truckers protest, there are protests against the waste disposal, sanctions are hurting, the new pension plan is biting, blacklisting candidates from elections, rampant corruption, people can’t leave the country, there are no jobs, ruble is half what it was before the Crimean invasion, Internet restrictions, friends and family dying by the thousands, and even the Commies aren’t happy….

        Liked by 4 people

        • Well it will be an even happier day for Ukraine, Georgia and all of putler’s other victims if some way, somehow democracy comes to that benighted land!
          I just saw a disturbing quote from Euronews:
          “Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he thought Zelenskiy was “a very reasonable guy” and that he was likely to make a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Zelenskiy, a television sitcom star, was elected in a landslide in May”.
          Nothing good could come from this. It looks like a capitulation. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

          Liked by 4 people

      • The difference between a simmering pot and boiling over is not much. The CCCP had Stalin’s purges in somewhat recent memory. For the Russian youth, those are stories of grandparents. Despite how the Kriminalin tries to block outside media, the youth see the events in Ukraine and Georgia. They also see the financial advantages of Europe and are questioning what the problems are in the mother land.
        The lid is being lifted and it will not take much today to get a revolution of Bolshovick proportions happening.

        Liked by 2 people

  • Revolution is in the air but sadly the thugs in the police and other internal agencies enjoy giving out a good beating without consequence too much.
    All the while there is a dictator available to take the place of the previous stalin, vatnikistan will never change and you can be sure the thugs and criminals in power will make sure that is the case.

    Liked by 3 people

  • Scradge1, I have been concerned over Z’s statement on talking to the murderous midget and ending the war. After watching the actions and contortions of the little shiit for over 10 years, and realising he does not back up, Z has little room to maneuver beyond capitulation.
    For democracy to take hold in the Russia will entail rewriting the constitution to similar to the US of A and installing a US style of elections and government structure. 4 year terms, with midterm elections for half the senators.
    To accomplish this requires either a bloody revolution or invasion. Both at the same time may be required to assist the people. Then international peacekeeping forces to prevent the mafia thugs from assuming control again. The Kriminalin requires to be totally disbanded with retraining and counselling for the “retired” staff.
    This is a major undertaking that will likely require a commitment of 20 years of intense involvement. Have the Sauerkrautes and Frogs got the ballz for that? I doubt it. Like in England, they have a simmering pot of immigration and integration that needs to be attended to.

    Liked by 1 person

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