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Moscow Courts Sentence 41 Protesters, Fines 79 From July 27 Rally


Russian opposition figure and disqualified election candidate Ilya Yashin (left) is escorted to a court in Moscow on July 29.

MOSCOW -- Forty-one people have so far been arrested and given prison sentences ranging from three to 15 days over their participation in an unauthorized rally on July 27 to protest city election officials who didn't register several independent and opposition candidates on the ballot for this autumn's vote to the municipal legislature.

Independent political watchdog OVD-Info said on its website that the number may rise because court hearings will continue.

The group said 79 people were fined for a total of 1.34 million rubles ($21,000) as of 12:30 a.m. on July 30.

Police Beat, Detain Protesters And Opposition Figures At Moscow Rally
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A court in Moscow on July 29 found the head of Moscow’s Krasnoselsky municipal district, Ilya Yashin, who has been unable to get registered for the city council election, guilty of violating regulations on holding public events and sentenced him to 10 days in jail.

Another Moscow court sentenced Konstantin Yankauskas, who has been also refused registration for the September 8 vote, to seven days in jail on the same charge.

Activist Valery Rodin received 12 days in jail for taking part in the unsanctioned rally, while at least three other activists were fined between 10,000 and 15,000 rubles ($158-$237). Hearings against other politicians and activists detained during the rallies are continuing.

Police in Moscow have been condemned for a "disproportionate" use of force in breaking up the demonstration. Police said 1,074 arrests were made at the unsanctioned rally outside Moscow City Hall, while OVD-Info reported 1,373 detentions.

According to police, about 3,500 people gathered near the mayor's office, including 700 registered journalists and bloggers. However, opposition activists said the number was much higher.

Moscow election officials said earlier in July that they had barred some opposition candidates from the Moscow City Duma elections in September because of insufficient signatures on nominating petitions. The decision had sparked several days of demonstrations this month, including one on July 20 in Moscow that drew an estimated crowd of 20,000.

Opposition Leaders Address Moscow Protest
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Aleksei Navalny, Russia's most-prominent opposition activist who is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for calling the latest protest, was taken to hospital late on July 28 with severe swelling of the face and a rash, sparking fears he had been the victim of a poisoning attempt, though hospital officials characterized the illness as "a generalized allergic reaction."

The 43-year-old activist was discharged on July 29 and immediately taken back to jail.

The 45 members of the Moscow City Duma hold powerful posts -- retaining the ability to propose legislation as well as inspect how the city’s $43 billion budget is spent.