Keen to keep the protest momentum going, some 18,000 Russians turned out for a rally organised by opposition leaders to call for the release of those jailed at rallies held in recent months.
About a half a dozen protestors at unsanctioned rallies in July through August have been arrested and charged with rioting and face long jail sentences, in what opposition leaders claim is a campaign to suppress dissent.
The opposition organised a series of protests – some sanctioned and some not – to demonstrate against the exclusion of opposition leaders from the Moscow City state council elections on September 8.
Police brutally beat participants and randomly snatched demonstrators and some passers-by who were later charged with inciting riots.
The violent treatment and harsh sentences have caused outrage across society and appear to have backfired as well known celebrities have added their voice to the condemnation of the government’s action, including a group of Orthodox priests. Several of the protestors have had the charges dropped and been released.
However, several more protestors remain in jail and are still facing jail time. Opposition leaders speculate the release of a few is only a sop to placate the anger, but the intention is to still send some of the protestors to jail so the threat of jail time for protesting remains in effect.
Opposition politician Leonid Volkov said a high turnout on Sunday would compel the government to release more people.
“If there are 50,000 people, they’ll let everyone out,” Volkov wrote on Twitter ahead of the rally.
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