MOSCOW – Tens of thousands of people rallied in central Moscow for the third consecutive weekend to protest the exclusion of opposition and independent candidates from the Russian capital’s city council ballot.
The protest Saturday appeared to have by far the largest turnout of the recent rallies over an issue tapping strong dissatisfaction with Russia’s tightly controlled politics.
Beliye Schetchik, a group that monitors attendance of public meetings, said it counted about 40,000 people at the demonstration; a police estimate put the crowd at 20,000.
Unlike the previous two protests, which sometimes saw violent police crackdowns and thousands of arrests combined, Saturday’s was sanctioned by city authorities.
Some opposition figures called for an unauthorized march to follow the permitted rally.
Police on Saturday detained Lyubov Sobol, one of Moscow City Council’s candidates denied a place on the ballot and a spearhead of the election protest.
A video on Sobol’s Twitter feed showed officers breaking into her office as she demanded an explanation from them.
Small related protests also were reported in several Siberian cities on Saturday.