Vladimir Putin - Russian News Politics - Russia Story Today

The Russian opposition vowed to stage another mass rally Saturday despite increasing pressure from authorities, who arrested nearly 1,400 people at a protest last week and have launched a criminal probe into the movement. The 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. Over 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”. Officials say candidates were disqualified because they forged the necessary signatures. 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 the opposition were declared invalid with no reason. Right to choose Some turned up at previous protests brandishing banners with slogans such as “I have a right to choose”. In the polls in September, the opposition hopes to end the monopoly of Kremlin loyalists in Moscow’s parliament. The body decides over the city’s multi-billion-dollar budget but lacks political independence from mayor Sergei Sobyanin, an ally of Putin. Putin has yet to comment on the political crisis in Moscow. Navalny and other protest leaders argue corruption is…

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