By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Police in Moscow detained more than 25 protestors at a rally to demonstrate against a possible ban on opposition candidates running in elections to the Russian capital’s parliament.
Opposition leaders cried foul after Moscow’s election commission said most of their sponsored candidates failed to secure the required number of signatures to participate in the election.
The commission has yet to officially announce the list of legitimate candidates for the Sept. 8 vote to the 45-seat parliament.
Ilya Yashin, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, and several other activists had called for a meeting with the voters on Sunday, an event, which transformed into a march to the Moscow city mayor office and then to the headquarters of the election commission.
Yashin said earlier on Sunday the election commission’s allegation that many of the signatures supporting him were rigged was an “absolute fraud”.
A police spokesman said more than 25 people, including some organizers of the protest, were detained in the centre of Moscow. “They have not responded to police’s command to stop their actions. They are being bussed to police stations for further inquiries,” a spokesman said.
The participants shouted anti-government and anti-Putin slogans, urging the authorities to register their candidates.
There is a history of anti-Kremlin activists being denied access to run for the parliament seats or presidential office.
Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition leaders, was barred from running in the 2018 presidential election after officials ruled he was ineligible to take part due to a suspended prison sentence.
The Moscow city election commission was not available for comment on Sunday.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Maxim Shemetov, editing by Louise Heavens)