Moscow Protesters Stage Series Of One-Person Pickets In Call For Free Elections

Russian activists staged a series of one-person pickets in Moscow on August 17 to circumvent laws against unauthorized gatherings as they continued their call for free elections.

Individual demonstrators stood at least 50 meters apart from each other at three different locations in central Moscow, holding up protest signs that called for municipal election officials to register the candidacies of opposition politicians.

Some of the demonstrators also called for charges to be dropped against those who have been detained at previous demonstrations that were not authorized by authorities.

There have been weekly protests in Moscow for more than a month since the authorities barred some opposition candidates from running in a September election for the city's legislature.

Police used force to disperse those earlier demonstrations, which they described as “illegal mass gatherings.”

Altogether, police have detained more than 2,000 protesters in recent weeks for taking part in unauthorized demonstrations.

Criminal charges of “mass disorder” also have been filed against about a dozen people who took part in the unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow.

The weekly demonstrations have turned into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-13, when protesters took to the streets against perceived electoral fraud.

About 4,000 people attended a communist rally in Moscow earlier on August 17 that was authorized by the authorities.

Those demonstrators said they were calling for "clear and honest elections."

Based on reporting by Current Time, Reuters, and Interfax