Putin ally re-elected Moscow mayor amid mass arrests

12 September, 2018, 13:14 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • A man wearing a knight outfit walks past police officers blocking a street during a rally against planned increases to the nationwide pension age in St. Petersburg Russia

"Putin and his government have plundered the budget for the past 18 years", jailed opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny said ahead of Sunday's protests.

Navalny reportedly said his arrest was an attempt to derail Sunday's planned protests.

MOSCOW-The fate of more than 1,000 people who were detained during nationwide antigovernment protests was still unclear on Monday, a day after Russians went to the polls in regional elections. "But they're even being denied the right to protests", Irina Akopenkova, 47, told AFP in Russia's second city.

"I can't keep being afraid anymore", she said of her decision to risk detention by showing up at a protest in Moscow's Pushkin Square that police said attracted about 2,000 people.

Thousands of of people took part in the demonstrations across 25 towns and cities, including in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, and almost 300 were arrested, according to monitoring groups. The ruling party also lost seats in some regional parliaments to members of the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russian Federation, the news agencies reported, citing election officials.

The policy caused Vladimir Putin's poll ratings to take a hit of around 15%, with the Russian president later softening his stance.

In Moscow, authorities charged two men with assailing police.

The proposed pension changes, which are now going through parliament, have shaved around 15 percentage points off Putin's popularity rating and are the most unpopular government measure since a 2005 move to scrap Soviet-era benefits.

In advance of the vote, a Moscow court jailed Navalny for 30 days, just a couple weeks before he planned to stage a rally on election day.

Putin has moved to raise the retirement age for women from 55 years old up to 60 years old, and for men, up to 65 from 60.

The World Health Organization says in 2016, the life expectancy of a Russian man was 66.

The protests coincide with elections for 26 heads of Russia's 85 regions, including in Moscow, which are being held on Sunday.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has voted at the Moscow mayoral election on Sunday morning at a polling station at his place of residence in central Moscow.

The proposals have been heavily criticised by Russia's usually subservient press, with Moskovski Komsomolets, a popular Moscow newspaper, describing them as the "most unsafe and risky reform of President Putin's 20-year rule".

The scale of the electoral setbacks for United Russia is "a unique situation", said Dmitry Orlov, a political analyst who's a member of the party's supreme council.



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