Planned daily protests follow huge Moscow rally over free and fair elections

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By Rachael Kennedy
Planned daily protests follow huge Moscow rally over free and fair elections

Independent candidates for local elections in Russia have vowed to hold a daily protest outside the mayoral office in Moscow, spinning off from an enormous protest on Saturday over free and fair voting.

The decision to protest has been sparked after a number of people wanting to stand as a candidate in local elections had their registrations deemed invalid by the government.

5,000 signatures

In order to register, each potential candidate must gather 5,000 signatures of support — but Russian authorities have said many of these are either faked or are copies from residents who are deceased.

Activists and barred would-be candidates maintain the block is a Kremlin scheme concocted to crackdown on competition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Saturday's protest saw more than 20,000 people fill the streets of Moscow, according to one NGO White Counter — although police placed this figure closer to 12,000.

Navalny encouraged by participation

Opposition leader Alexey Navalny said on Instagram that he hadn't "been to a protest this big since 2012," in reference to a series of huge demonstrations against Putin's leadership and vote rigging.

He added: "I am very happy that tens of thousands of Muscovites did not remain silent, and did not swallow the humiliation, but went out to protest."

"The Moscow mayor's office and United Russia decided that it was possible to freely declare as second-rate people all those who did not want to vote for them.

"But now it is clear that they will not get away with it for free."

Opposition candidate Lyubov Sobol has compiled a public list of signatures that had been rejected on her registration.

In a further tweet, she said: "The electoral committee of 43 districts recognised, on the basis on the handwriting 'expertise' or the ministry of internal affairs, that even the signature of my sister Pauline as a fake."

Meanwhile, candidate Ivan Zhdanov encouraged people to take part in mini protests outside the mayor's office every day in order to demand a reversal on the decision to reject candidate registrations.

He advised people to take part of ten minutes or longer as protests of a small size do not require prior government permission.

Should authorities not answer the protester's demands, another large rally has been planned for the following weekend.

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