Russian police arrested hundreds of a forum participants

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on Saturday detained hundreds people at a forum held by opposition organization deemed ‘undesirable’ at the Izmailovo Delta Hotel.’Police showed up at the gathering in Moscow shortly after it opened. On Saturday, municipal deputies from Russia’s regions gathered in the Russian capital to discuss parliamentary and local elections — which are scheduled for September — at a forum held by United Democrats. Moscow police said in a statement that they moved to stop the meeting because it violated coronavirus restrictions with many participants failing to wear masks. About 200 participants were arrested. Between detained was Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician who leads one of Moscow’s municipal districts; former mayor of Yekaterinburg Yevgeny Roizman; and Moscow’s municipal council member Yulia Galyamina. Prominent activist and Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara Murza — a longtime colleague and friend of assassinated opposition figure Boris Nemtsov — was also listed among those detained.

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A 2015 law introduced criminal punishment for membership in “undesirable” organizations. The government has used the law to ban about 30 groups, including Open Russia. The government has intensified its crackdown on the opposition ahead of parliamentary elections set for September as the popularity of the main Kremlin-backed party, United Russia, has dwindled.