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Moscow Authorities Deny Opposition’s Requests For August 31 Rally


Russian opposition activist Lyubov Sobol (file photoO

MOSCOW -- A prominent opposition figure who has been disqualified from Moscow’s upcoming municipal elections says local authorities have refused to issue a permit to hold a protest in the Russian capital on August 31.

Lyubov Sobol said on August 22 that activists had proposed three locations for the planned rally to protest "political repression," but each request was turned down.

She published the similarly-worded rejection letters on social media, all of which state that the proposed locations would "interfere" with pedestrian traffic, transportation, or "social infrastructure."

Authorities didn't offer alternative locations for the rallies in contravention of the law, Sobol said, calling on the city hall to "stop engaging in provocations and showing disrespect toward Muscovites, and ensure the right to assembly and freedom of expression."

There have been weekly protests in Moscow for more than a month since the authorities barred Sobol -- a lawyer for the Anticorruption Foundation that is headed by Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny -- and other opposition or independent candidates from running for the 45-seat city council in the September 8 polls.

Police have used force to disperse the demonstrations, which they described as "illegal mass gatherings," and detained more than 2,000 people, triggering international condemnation.

In an effort to circumvent laws against unauthorized assemblies, activists staged a series of one-person pickets in the Russian capital on August 17 as they continued their call for free elections.

Russia President Vladimir Putin has played down the significance of the protests, calling them a part of "pre-election tensions."

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