close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Russian police detain prominent opposition activist before protest

File photo of Lyubov Sobol. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencies New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 03, 2019, 05.32 PM (IST)

Russian police on Saturday detained prominent opposition activist Lyubov Sobol ahead of a planned protest in Moscow to demand free elections.

Thousands of Russian opposition protesters are expected to try and rally again in Moscow on Saturday despite a sweeping police crackdown and ban on the event.

Sobol had called on people to attend the demonstration, which authorities in Moscow had refused to sanction.

Sobol, who is on hunger strike, was detained in a taxi as she tried to make her way to the protest and driven off in a police van.

The unauthorised march along Moscow's leafy boulevards will be the latest in a series of demonstrations after officials refused to let popular opposition candidates run in next month's city parliament elections.

The local issue has boiled over into one of the worst political conflicts of recent years, with rallies of up to 22,000 people and police violence against demonstrators.

More than 6,000 people said on Facebook they would take part in the march along Moscow's so-called Boulevard Ring on Saturday to "bring back the right to elections".

Authorities installed barriers along the route ahead of the protest.

Candidates needed to collect signatures from city residents to stand in the polls but officials said they were disqualified because some names were forged.

But candidates, including allies of top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, insist their signatures were thrown out arbitrarily, and the whole vetting process was skewed against them.

Many Muscovites said their signatures in support of opposition candidates were declared invalid for no reason.

President Vladimir Putin has yet to comment on the situation in Moscow.

Story highlights

Thousands of Russian opposition protesters are expected to try and rally again in Moscow on Saturday despite a sweeping police crackdown and ban on the event.