Russian security forces broke up a legal opposition event in Moscow and arrested dozens of people. Among those arrested are the opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Mursa and the activist Alexei Piwowarow.
District and city parliamentarians from all over Russia had traveled to Moscow for the two-day forum of the so-called United Democrats. Several prominent members of the opposition, such as Moscow local politician Ilya Yashin, were due to speak about community-level politics at the conference.
In the morning, however, the venue, a hotel in Moscow, was raided. The police broke up the event. There were reportedly more than 150 arrests in total. “Everyone was arrested. I mean everyone, ”wrote one participant on Twitter. Numerous participants in the forum published photos there showing them in prisoner transports. Dozens of people, including journalists who wanted to cover the event, were reportedly temporarily prohibited from leaving the building.
Repressions against opposition are increasing
There was initially no official information about the background. According to media reports, the participants were accused of “working with an undesirable organization”.
In recent years, the repression against the opposition in Russia has intensified. Among other things, dozens of groups were declared “undesirable organizations”. Many members of the opposition are in custody or under house arrest.
Alexei Navalny, the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, has been sent to a camp for several years after a court in Moscow converted a suspended sentence into a prison sentence in early February. More than 11,000 people were temporarily arrested during protests against his detention (read more here). The officers cracked down on the demonstrators with great severity.
In Russia, a new parliament will be elected in September. In the election, the Kremlin United Russia party wants to defend its two-thirds majority.