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Moscow Council Candidate Sobol Detained As Pressure Builds on Opposition

Opposition politician Lyubov Sobol says she was briefly detained by Moscow police (file photo).
Opposition politician Lyubov Sobol says she was briefly detained by Moscow police (file photo).

Lyubov Sobol, a Russian opposition figure, was briefly detained early on July 26 outside the headquarters of the Moscow Election Commission, the latest in a series of actions taken against political candidates independent of the Kremlin.

Sobol, who is seeking to run in the September 8 city council vote, wrote on Twitter that she had been carried out of the commission office by guards after she refused to leave the building. She was taken to a police station and charged with obstructing the work of the commission.

Video posted on social media shows an officer forcing her into the car as she demands an explanation for her detainment. She was released a short time later.

Sobol went to the commission in the center of Moscow to demand Chairman Valentin Gorbunov review documents indicating she had garnered enough legitimate voter support to appear on the ballot.

Earlier this month, the commission excluded her participation in the city council race on the grounds that many of the signatures she submitted in support of her candidacy were either invalid or falsified.

Sobol's team campaigned for weeks in her Moscow district to get the required number of votes amid what she called dirty tricks to intimidate her.

Sobol, who is a prominent investigator with opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, accused the commission of seeking to sideline her and other candidates who are not aligned with the Kremlin.

Gorbunov left with other members of the commission without viewing her documents.

Sobol remained for hours inside the commission headquarters, demanding Ella Pamfilova, the head of the Central Election Committee, meet with her to discuss a solution to the "very serious election crisis.”

Her detention comes on the heels of a large-scale effort to pressure opposition leaders ahead of an unsanctioned rally planned for July 27 to demand free and fair elections.

Police searched the homes of several opposition candidates on July 24 shortly before midnight and ordered others to appear for questioning the following morning.

Earlier in the day, a court sentenced opposition figure Navalny to 30 days in jail.

Amnesty International called the actions by Russian authorities an “open and shameless attempt” to intimidate the opposition ahead of September’s parliamentary elections in Moscow.

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