Russia detains more than 1,000 people in opposition crackdown
Arrested and ‘sitting on a bench’OVD-Info, an independent monitoring group, said police detained at least 1,373 people before or at Saturday’s protest. As in past sweeps, many were only held for a matter of hours. Police put participation at more than 3,500 people, of whom it said around 700 people were journalists and bloggers. Activists said the number attending was likely to have been much higher. Some activists were arrested twice after being released and then returning to protest in a different place. Reuters witnesses said some of those detained appeared to be ordinary passersby in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of those detained, Alexander Latyshev, 45, said he had came from the nearby Vladimir region to discuss business with an associate and been randomly detained. “I was just sitting on a bench (when they took me),” he told Reuters inside a police bus. Police also raided an office being used by Navalny’s supporters to live-stream the protest. TV Rain, an independent station covering the protests, said its editor-in-chief had been called in for questioning after police visited its offices. Under Russian law, the location and timing of such protests needs to be agreed with authorities beforehand, something that was not done for Saturday’s event. Kremlin critic Navalny was jailed for 30 days on Wednesday and other members of the opposition have had their homes searched. Ilya Yashin, a Navalny ally, said police had searched his Moscow flat overnight before detaining him and driving him out of the capital. He called for another protest next Saturday. Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said on Twitter she had been detained on Saturday morning. Other prominent activists Dmitry Gudkov and Lyubov Sobol were also held. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a Putin ally, had warned beforehand that authorities would act decisively against the risk of “serious provocations”. The police’s investigative arm has already opened a criminal investigation into an opposition rally in June which it said may have obstructed the work of Moscow’s electoral commission. An authorized protest in Moscow last weekend, also calling for the disbarred candidates to be registered, was attended by more than 20,000 people, according to the White Counter monitoring group.
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