Hundreds of people were detained in Russia’s capital today during protests against the exclusion of opposition candidates for the Moscow city council elections.
BBC Russian Service reported that the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed about 1,500 people took part in the unauthorized protests in the center of Moscow.
However, journalists believe that number to be much higher.
Non-governmental monitoring group OVD-Info reported that more than 800 people were detained in connection with the demonstrations.
The rally took place without leaders because most of the candidates who were denied registration have been detained and are under arrest.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is also behind bars, although he was not running for city council.
Just before the protests began, Lyubov Sobol, an opposition candidate who wanted to run in next month’s city council elections, was detained by police. Sobol, a lawyer for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation who has been on a hunger strike for three weeks, was forcefully pulled out of her taxi and into a van by several police officers.
A number of journalists reporting from the protests were also detained for short periods.
OVD-Info reported that officers were beating some of the protesters. A video shared by Current Time TV shows police holding down two men while another officer beat them with a baton.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Russian news agency TASS, Moscow State Pedagogical University rector Alexei Lubkov said that students who took part in the protests may be at risk of expulsion.
As protests were beginning on August 3, Russian authorities announced they launched a criminal case into Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was established to investigate and expose corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials.
Russian authorities are claiming that members of the foundation as well as others with links to it have laundered around $15 million.
The demonstrations follow a similar rally on July 27, where security forces detained nearly 1,400 people.
The personal data of people who attended last week's demonstrations has appeared on the website ugolovka.info. Anonymous telegram channels reported that they would also publish information on those who participated in today's rally in Moscow and as well as a solidarity rally in St. Petersburg.
Moscow City Council elections will be held on September 8.