Today, October 16, an action took place in Moscow next to the monument to the heroes of Plevna. The goal of the action was to protest the falsifications perpetrated by the United Russia party during regional elections that took place across Russia on October 11. Most of the protesters were members of the Moscow Soviet, who were there to decry the manipulations that took place in Moscow during elections to the Moscow City Duma. Several attendees also protested the gangster-like methods employed by the current mayor of Astrakhan, a United Russia protégé, in his effort to secure victory against the opposition candidate, State Duma deputy Oleg Shein. Despite the peaceful nature of the action, it was broken up after a few minutes by OMON riot police.
Around fifty people assembled opposite the Administration of the Russian Federation President; many of them were social activists who are members of the Moscow Soviet. Vladimir Zhirnov, a housing activist and a Moscow City Duma candidate from the Yuzhnoe Butovo district, recounted the falsifications he had uncovered and incidents of the coercion that city officials applied to deputies. Tatyana Belova, a member of elections commission No. 12 (and thus someone who has the right to a “deciding” vote on its decisions) gave examples of forged signatures at her polling station.
Several protesters carried handmade placards meant to draw attention to the elections in Astrakhan and the so-called Astrakhan Maidan, where young supporters of Shein from the organization Countdown have set up a tent camp and are conducting daily mass protest meetings. Two of the placards read “We support the Astrakhan Maidan!” and “Return Astrakhan to the Astrakhanians!”
Deputy Oleg Shein was also present at the action. He told journalists about the “gangster-like elections” in Astrakhan, where the city administration employed thuggish methods and its “administrative resource” to combat popular mobilization for his alternative candidacy. He announced that he was prepared to present journalists with a documentary film about the elections entitled “Gangster Coup in Astrakhan.”
Protesters were peacefully conversing with journalists before delivering to the Presidential Administration a petition demanding that results of the elections be declared null and void and that abuses be investigated and the guilty parties punished. Suddenly, regular police, aided by the OMON, began making arrests. Six people were immediately arrested, including IKD director Carine Clément, who was holding a placard in support of the Astrakhanians. As the detainees reported by telephone, the arrests were carried out in an extremely rough manner. One young woman was dragged along the ground for thirty meters before being tossed into a police bus.
Among those arrested were Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov and IKD correspondent Alexander Lekhtman.
The arrested were taken to the Kitai-Gorod police precinct, where they were held in the “monkey cage” until 4 or 5 p.m. The remaining participants in the picket followed them there. They gathered next to the entrance of the police station and began chanting, “Freedom, freedom!” This led to their being arrested as well. Eighteen people in all were detained.
“I have just come back from Astrakhan, where I saw with my own eyes how the authorities made a mockery of people’s right to vote,” said Carine Clément. “They are killing people’s faith in law and justice, and we demand an impartial investigation of this thuggish abuse of power and punishment of the guilty parties.”
According to the latest information, the detainees are being released one by one after being giving a summons to appear in court next week. All of them are charged with conducting an unsanctioned action.