Moscow braces for more weekend protests despite police detentions

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Russians are set to protest for the fourth consecutive weekend to demand that opposition candidates be allowed to run in Moscow’s local elections in September — something authorities have so far refused to allow. But this time, protesters are also demanding that political prisoners be released and that violence and detentions against protesters be investigated. Protests are planned in at least 40 cities to show support for Moscow despite the thousands of detentions by police officers in the past few weeks at protests. According to Russian monitoring group OVD-info, over 1000 people were detained in last weekend’s protests. The protests started after independent candidates were not allowed to run in an upcoming September election for the Moscow City Duma, the city’s regional government. Russian officials said they did not have enough genuine signatures in their support or in certain cases that there were mistakes in the election documents, according to independent Latvia-based Russian news aggregator Meduza. Candidates said those claims were false. Video footage showed police officers beating protesters last weekend. It was the second weekend in a row that over 1,000 protesters were detained. One of the main protest organisers updated their demands in a note on Facebook, stating that they wanted a release of political prisoners, “termination of absurd criminal cases” and the release of independent candidates. They also demanded the resignation of several Moscow officials and an investigation into those “involved in the fabrication of criminal cases and violence against protesters”. “Previous rallies were mainly around the subject of the ban on independent candidates,” said Alexander Baunov, a political expert at Moscow Carnegie Center. For some, the rally this weekend “is connected not with the non-admission of candidates for elections, but with the fact that civilians suffered on July 27 and then on August 3.” Petr Verzilov, one of the organisers of the march told Euronews that the planned protest this weekend had been fully authorised and that he expects a lot of people to show up.