Municipal elections are to be held in 19 regions across Russia on Sunday, September 8. Mass protests have taken place leading up to the elections, particularly in Moscow following a ruling in mid-July that barred more than 50 opposition candidates from running for a seat on the Moscow City Duma. A heavy police presence and further protests are likely in major cities on election day.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) is organizing a political rally in Samara (Samara oblast) on Thursday, September 5, to demand free and fair local elections on September 8. Supporters will gather at Rodina Park at 18:00 (local time) to discuss the elections, as well as other socioeconomic issues. Activists are also planning a solidarity demonstration in St. Petersburg on Thursday to protest the government's move to ban opposition politicians from participating in Moscow's upcoming city council elections. Participants are expected to gather at 19:00 at Lenin Square.
A heightened security presence and transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites. Clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out. Similar demonstrations may be held in other major Russian cities amid a heavy police presence over the coming days and weeks surrounding the elections.
Activists claim that around 50,000 people participated in a mass demonstration in Moscow on August 10 to demand that authorities allow opposition-aligned candidates to run in the September 8 Moscow council elections, as well as the release of individuals arrested in previous weeks' demonstrations. Solidarity rallies were also held in other cities across the country, including in St. Petersburg. Hundreds of people were detained by the police, including opposition activist Lyubov Sobol, who was arrested at her office before being released later in the day.
Political tensions have increased after opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested on July 24 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Approximately 600 protesters were arrested in Moscow on August 3 and another 1400 protesters were arrested in the capital on July 27 amid gatherings to denounce a decision by the Moscow City Election Committee to exclude opposition candidates from the September 8 city council elections.
Individuals in St. Petersburg, Samara, and Moscow are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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