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A woman holds a placecard saying "demanding fair signature counting" A woman holds a placecard saying "demanding fair signature counting"  (AFP or licensors)

Opposition rallies in Moscow amid wider crackdown

At least 1,000 opposition supporters gathered in central Moscow to demand that authorities include opposition candidates on ballots for an upcoming city parliament election in September.

By Stefan J. Bos

At least 1,000 opposition supporters gathered in central Moscow to demand that authorities include opposition candidates on ballots for an upcoming city parliament election in September.

They gathered despite authorities disapproving of the protest.

The demonstrators are upset that the Moscow election commission rejected signatures supporting several candidates.

Demonstrators on Sunday chanted "We are the authority here!". And referring to the Russian president, they shouted: "Putin is a thief."

Ilya Yashin, one of the candidates who saw signatures invalidated, urged demonstrators to march with him to the mayor's office to state their election demands.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Broader concerns

unday's rally comes amid broader concerns about a reported crackdown by authorities on those opposing the president Vladimir Putin's rule.

Among others opposing the president is Alexei Navalny, Russia's most famous opposition leader.

However, supporting Sunday's demonstration is not without risk for  Navalny. 

During a packed Russian court hearing, Navalny was already sentenced to 10 days in jail this month for taking part in another unsanctioned rally in June.

Charges dropped

That protest was part of a series of rallies sparked by the detention of a prominent investigative reporter on drug-dealing charges.

The case of journalist Ivan Golunov caused public outrage, and Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by firing two senior police officers.

Charges against the journalist were dropped within days for lack of evidence.

Despite these small steps, the opposition claims it will take time to turn Russian into a full-fledged democratic society. 

14 July 2019, 16:54