Russian police on Saturday detained about 200 participants in a forum of independent members of the municipal council, a move that came amid a multidimensional crackdown on dissent from authorities.
Soon after the inauguration of the Moscow police told the gathering that it is all at an “undesirable” to take part in a ceremony organized by the organization will be held. A police official leading the operation said the detainees would be taken to the police station and charged with administrative violations.
Moscow police said in a statement that they had moved to close the meeting because it violated Carnavirus restrictions and many participants failed to wear masks. Police said they detained about 200 participants, some of whom were members of unspecified “unwanted” organizations.
OVD-Info, an independent group monitoring the arrests and political repression, has posted a list of more than 170 people detained. These include opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who heads a municipal district in Moscow; Yeggeny Riesmann, former mayor of Yekaterinburg; And Yulia Glyamina, a member of the Moscow Municipal Council.
“Their goal was to scare people away from getting involved in politics,” said Andrei Pivorov, a politician who helped organize the forum, in a video from a police van.
The Pivovrov Open has played a leading role in a group funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an independent exiled Russian tycoon from Russia. Khodorkovsky moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges of being widely seen as a political revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
A 2015 law introduced criminal penalties for membership in “unwanted” organizations. The government has used the law to ban about 30 groups, including Open Russia.
An earlier law forced private entities to accept foreign funds and engage in politically under-described activity to register as “foreign agents”.
The laws have been widely criticized as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to resolve differences, but Russian authorities have described them as a fitting response to Western attempts to undermine the country.
Saturday’s forum police crackdown followed the arrest and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most determined political foe was arrested on his return from Germany on January 17, where he spent five months with a nerve agent who blamed the Kremlin. Russian authorities have denied the allegations.
Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2/2 years in prison for violating his entry conditions while living in Germany – he denied allegations that he was a Kremlin vendetta. His arrest and imprisonment sparked protests across Russia, which provoked widespread protests.
The government has stepped up its crackdown on opposition ahead of parliamentary elections in September as the main Kremlin-backed United Russia loses popularity.