Socialist Worker

Crackdown on protests as Putin fears challenge in upcoming local elections

Issue No. 2665

Police line up against protesters in Moscow

Police line up against protesters in Moscow (Pic: Craig Brandist)


Russian police arrested thousands of protestors in the capital Moscow on Saturday of last week.

Cops broke up the 6,000-strong demonstration as part of a clampdown ahead of rigged city council elections in September.

One eyewitness told Socialist Worker, “The crowd was chanting, ‘We won’t give you this part of the town.’

“Parts of the Tverskaya Street were cordoned off and large numbers of people were trapped by the blockades. There was a major police presence in the parallel streets, with rows of special riot police and regular officers.

“Many more were held in reserve down the side streets.

“The demonstration was effectively isolated, people couldn’t join it and large numbers of people were trapped by the blockades.

“Police were dragging some people away.”

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The local elections have become a focus for opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin and the right wing United Russia party. Authorities barred around 30 opposition candidates from standing, in a sign of growing jitters in the Putin regime.

Putin has ruled Russia since 1997 through force and fraud.

While maintaining United Russia’s rule, the regime helps satellite parties that act as a safe outlet for left wing or nationalist discontent.

It’s a sign that Putin fears real opposition. But the opposition that has emerged is contradictory.

Many of the barred candidates are supported by Alexei Navalny’s Russia of the Future party. He was jailed for supporting the protests and was rushed to hospital with symptoms of poisoning last week.

Navalny is a Russian oligarch who became a champion of democracy when he fell out with Putin. He supports Russian nationalism and sees free market policies as the solution to corruption and authoritarianism.

Winning real change in Russia will require rejecting Putin and the free market.


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