Tens of thousands of people have rallied in central Moscow for the third consecutive weekend to protest against the exclusion of opposition and independent candidates from the Russian capital’s city council ballot.
The protest on Saturday appeared to have by far the largest turnout of the recent rallies over an issue tapping strong dissatisfaction with Russia’s tightly controlled politics.
A group that monitors attendance of public meetings, Beliye Schetchik, said it counted about 40,000 people at the demonstration. A police estimate put the crowd at 20,000.
Unlike the previous two protests, which saw sometimes violent police crackdowns and thousands of arrests combined, the latest one was sanctioned by city authorities.
But some opposition figures called for an unauthorised march to follow the permitted rally.
Police on Saturday detained Lyubov Sobol, one of the city council candidates denied a place on the ballot and a spearhead of the election protest.
A video on Ms Sobol’s Twitter feed showed officers breaking into her office as she demanded an explanation from them.
Small related protests were also reported in several Siberian cities on Saturday.