Pro-Democracy Russian organizers have continued their protests in Moscow for a fourth straight weekend demanding more candidates be allowed to run in the upcoming City Council election in September. The protesters are also protesting Vladimir Putin’s presidency amid increasing economic woes.
Several of the opposition’s local candidates have been barred by Putin’s government. Protesters carried signs like “Give us the right to vote,” and “You’ve lied to us already.” The protesters and riot police recently clashed with some confrontations turning violent.
The rallies which have taken place since the beginning of the summer, have been the largest the anti-Putin protests since 2011, and have seen thousands arrested in response by Russian police. One of the most recent protests which happened on Saturday, August 10, in Moscow, saw an estimated 60,000 demonstrators attend.
In one of the first protests earlier this summer, over 1,200 protesters were arrested in Moscow. Latest reports say 600 protesters remained in custody with about half of the demonstrators released. Those arrested at previous protests include student activist and members of opposition political parties. Key opposition figure Alexei Navalny was arrested in the early days of the protests and sentenced to thirty days in jail.
“We believe that the tough actions of law enforcement officers in stopping the riots were absolutely justified,” Vladimir Putin Spokesman, Dmitrv Peskov said recently in a statement. The protests continued this past weekend and President Putin has yet to make a statement.
Numerous countries including France and Germany have condemned the tough crackdown on opposition activists. France said in a statement, “France calls on Russia to immediately free the people incarcerated in recent days and to conform to its commitments as a member of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.”
Germany said in a statement that Russia’s actions “violated international obligations,” and that it “strongly questions the right to free and fair elections.”
I think it is time that the United States makes a statement in full support of pro-democracy protesters, not only in Russia but also in Hong Kong. It is clear that the enemies of freedom and democracy are attempting to regain control against a wave of pro-democracy sentiment in strategically important countries around the world. The US should play its part in supporting democracy everywhere.