Fresh protest draws Russians out against Kremlin ′repression′ | News | DW | 29.09.2019
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Fresh protest draws Russians out against Kremlin 'repression'

Around 20,000 people rallied in central Moscow demanding the release of political prisoners. Several opposition activists are in jail after a summer of protests that sparked a harsh crackdown on dissent by the Kremlin.

Thousands of Russians on Sunday chanted "Let them go" during a protest in central Moscow demanding the release of opposition activists jailed recently for dissent.

Demonstrators demanded a halt to "repression" against anti-government politicians and activists after some received sentences of up to four years. Many attendees held up photos of those being incarcerated.

Those detained were sentenced for taking part in illegal protests during the Northern Hemisphere summer; others are being prosecuted for crimes such as violence against police officers, which protesters say are trumped up.

Authorities said some 20,000 people took part in Sunday's rally, which was authorized by the mayor's office. There were no arrests.

Read more: Russian celebrities and priests show support for jailed actor

'No fair hearing'

"No one can get a fair hearing in Russian courts — injustice and lawlessness can happen to anyone now," opposition politician Lyubov Sobol told protesters over a sound system from a raised stage.

Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny appeared for the first time at a demonstration since he was released from jail last month. He was held for 30 days for repeatedly organizing unauthorized public gatherings.

Read more: Russia: Police raid offices, homes tied to Navalny, protests

The current wave of demonstrations was triggered in July by the refusal of authorities to allow Sobol and several others to participate in local Moscow elections on September 8. Some potential candidates were rejected on technicalities, such as disqualified signatures. 

Violent response criticized

When crowds of around 50,000 people began to gather every weekend demanding democratic reforms, a sometimes violent crackdown ensued, with some 2,000 people detained.

Read more: Moscow protests: 'It is our civic duty to go out on the streets'

During Moscow's city council vote, the dominant United Russia party, associated with Putin, lost about a third of its seats in those polls but preserved its leading position.

mm/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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