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Russian police arrest more than 1,300 protesters at Moscow rally

This image shows a line of protestors and police on opposite sides of a steel fence barrier that they are holding against each other.
Protesters attempt to break through a police cordon on Saturday. Photo: Maxim Zmeyev/AFP/Getty Images

More than 1,300 protestors were arrested in Moscow Saturday, following a police roundup of local politicians attempting to challenge President Vladimir Putin's party for city office, according to OVD-Info, an independent police monitoring group.

Details: Video posted by journalists and activists on social media appeared to show riot police using batons on protesters at the rally, which was not authorized by authorities. At least 1 woman and a man appeared to sustain serious head wounds in the clashes, according to Reuters. The majority of protestors arrested have since been released, but 150 remain in police custody, per AP.

Why it matters: Demonstrators say the crackdown is the harshest since a wave of anti-Kremlin protests in 2011–12, per Reuters. Protestors are calling for fair elections and for opposition and independent candidates to be able to run for city council.

  • About 30 independent candidates have been disqualified from Moscow's September city council elections based on claims that candidates improperly obtained required signatures of support.

The big picture: The Kremlin's grip on local elections restricts Putin's critics from gaining legitimate political power. Putin, now in his second 6-year term, has dealt with dropping public support, declining Russian incomes and living standards, and protests over unpopular pension restrictions.

  • Last week's Moscow protests attracted about 22,500 people, the Washington Post notes.
  • Saturday's protest saw about 3,500 participants, according to police. Officers began making arrests at the latest rally before the crowd had fully gathered, per the New York Times.

In photos

Police officers detain a woman during an unauthorized rally in support of rejected independent candidates in the upcoming Moscow City Duma [Moscow parliament] election
Police detain a woman during the rally in support of rejected independent candidates in the upcoming local election. Photo: Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images
 Police officers seen during an unauthorized rally in support of rejected independent candidates in the upcoming Moscow City Duma [Moscow parliament] election
Police officers wield batons at the rally held by Russian opposition groups in central Moscow. Photo: Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images
Police at an unauthorized rally in support of rejected independent candidates in the upcoming Moscow City Duma [Moscow parliament] election held by Russian opposition in central Moscow.
Police close in on protesters. Photo: Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images
A detained protester shows the placard reading "I have the right to choose" from the window of a police bus.
A detained protester shows a placard reading "I have the right to choose" from the window of a police vehicle. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

This article has been updated with more details on the protest, including the estimated number of arrests.

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