Moscow Election Commission Chief Scraps Meeting With Independent Candidates

MOSCOW -- A meeting between the Moscow Election Commission chief and independent candidates for the city council, or City Duma, has been canceled.

One day after police forcibly dispersed demonstrators who demanded that Valentin Gorbunov meet with the candidates, he told Ekho Moskvy radio on July 15 that he was ready to meet them in his office.

Moscow police detained more than 25 demonstrators outside Moscow Election Commission headquarters on July 14 after independent candidates called for a sit-in protest following their exclusion from the elections and demanded a meeting with Gorbunov.

Moscow Police Detain Protesters Outside Election Committee Headquarters

Candidates Ilya Yashin, Lyubov Sobol, Ivan Zhdanov, and Yulia Galyamina were among those taken to police stations July 14 after an hours-long peaceful protest.

Three protesters were hospitalized after police used force to disperse them.

The protests were prompted by the commission's move to invalidate many of the 4,500 signatures required from each independent candidate in order to run in the September polls. The commission said signatures were invalid because names, addresses, or passport details were incorrect.

The commission's claim was dismissed by the candidates as an attempt to prevent them from running in the poll, and some of their supporters took to the streets.

When candidates came to his office on July 15, Gorbunov refused to meet with them as a group, proposing separate meetings instead.

His proposal was rejected by the candidates and some of them called on their supporters to stage rallies later on July 15 and demand that they be allowed to register for the September polls.