Russian protesters returned to the streets of Moscow on August 3 in a third attempt to rally popular support for the registration of opposition and independent candidates in upcoming city elections. Current Time provided live coverage (in Russian only).
Police reported that more than 600 individuals have been detained out of some 1,500 participants in the center of Moscow. OVD-Info, a non-governmental police watchdog, however, estimates that 685 people have been detained. Among them are at least six journalists and two foreigners, reportedly.
On August 3, police also detained prominent potential candidate Lyubov Sobol, a 31-year-old lawyer for the non-profit Anti-Corruption Federation. Law enforcement did not answer her demands to be told the reason for her detention. Currently on a hunger strike, Sobol has been detained multiple times in connection with the election protests.
A member of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Igor Kalyapin, head of the Committee to Prevent Torture, has also been detained.
Many of the detentions appear to be random, Current Time correspondent Yevgenia Kotlar reported from Moscow's Pushkin Square. In one instance, riot police detained a man who had shouted a question about why they were preventing people from crossing the street.
In another case, police beat the feet and legs of a man who attempted to prevent the detention of another young man, Georgy Oganezov, who claimed that he had only been taking a walk.
Police detained nearly 1,400 individuals at the last, unauthorized candidate-registration rally on July 27, according to OVD-Info. The Moscow City Court announced on August 2 that 88 people have been arrested for up to 30 days on administrative charges and two have been sentenced to compulsory labor.
Five individuals to date have been arrested on criminal charges of taking part in a mass disorder. All five have been put in custody for two months. The charges carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
Тhe courts have fined another 332 people up to 150,000 rubles (roughly $2,300) each on administrative charges, Interfax reported.
The government alleges that “unidentified individuals” intended to use demands for the registration of opposition and independent candidates as a pretext for an “armed uprising.”
Elections to Moscow’s 45-seat city council are scheduled for September. The pro-government United Russia party currently controls the assembly.