Russia: Protests return to Moscow as opposition candidates are banned from a crucial election | Vladimir Kara-Murza/The Washington Post
More than 20,000 Muscovites gathered Saturday on Andrei Sakharov Avenue — the site of the mass anti-Putin protests in 2011 — to demand that the authorities rescind their ban on opposition candidates participating in a crucial Moscow election. “We do not exist for them, they only notice us when it’s time to pay taxes,” Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent anticorruption activist, told the rally. “From now on, there will be no taxation without representation. … I am proposing a peaceful public compromise: either you register every candidate, or next Saturday we will gather for a rally at Moscow City Hall!” The election for the Moscow City Duma — the legislative body that passes laws and adopts the budget for Russia’s 12-million-strong capital and its most important political center — will be held on Sept. 8. But the most consequential fraud has already been committed. Last week, Moscow’s electoral commissions — bodies that are supposed to act as impartial arbiters in administering elections but are in reality the first line of defense for the incumbent government — disqualified nearly all viable opposition candidates from the ballot. For weeks, some of Moscow’s (and Russia’s) best-known democracy activists — including Dmitri Gudkov, once the lone opposition voice in the country’s parliament; Ilya Yashin, a colleague of the late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was recently elected to lead one of the city’s municipal districts; and Lyubov Sobol, the lead lawyer at Navalny’s Anticorruption Foundation — raced to meet an impossible threshold: collect some 5,000 signatures each to get on the ballot. The task was made more formidable not only by logistical challenges in the midst of the vacation season, but also because each signature on the petition means volunteering one’s personal information for the government’s database of opposition supporters.Full Article: Protests return to Moscow as opposition candidates are banned from a crucial election - The Washington Post.