Around 50,000 people attended a huge demonstration in Moscow on Saturday calling for open elections in the city. It was the largest opposition rally seen in Russia for six years. Protesters are lashing out after opposition candidates were barred from standing in elections next month. There is also anger over mass police detentions which are thought to be at the highest since Vladimir Putin returned to power in 2012 The White Counter Group, which counts participants at rallies, estimated nearly 50,000 people in attendance. But Russian police have given a more modest figure of 20,000. In a fourth consecutive weekend of protests, demonstrators carried placards with slogans including ‘Give us the right to vote’ and ‘You’ve lied to us enough’.
Police made more than 100 arrests, many after a group of protesters marched towards the presidential building. Protesters were also demanding the release of political prisoners. Lyubov Sobol, one of the city council candidates denied a place on the ballot, spearheaded the protest. She was among those detained in Moscow on Saturday.
A video on her Twitter feed showed officers breaking into her office as she demanded an explanation from them. Other protests across the country broke out in support of those in the capital and there are reports that up to 300 people across Russia have been arrested. An arrest monitoring group said 70 people were arrested in St Petersburg at an unsanctioned demonstration in support of the Moscow protests.