Campaign diary

Moscow legislator Ilya Yashin detained

Screenshot (3748)

Ilya Yashin holds up a piece of paper showing that his gathering is legal on Sunday. Screenshot from Radio Svoboda video.

by Sarah Hurst

Opposition activist and Moscow local legislator Ilya Yashin was detained today outside his home because he organised an unauthorised rally on Sunday. Yashin tweeted that he was taken away by five police officers. On arrival at the police station his phone was confiscated and later he was transported to a court for a trial. At about 9.30 pm Moscow time the judge announced that he would be fined 30,000 roubles ($521).

Yashin had announced weeks ago that he would hold a festival called a “Day of Free Elections” in Moscow on December 24. The event would include food, music and discussions about how to ensure that all candidates are able to participate in the Russian presidential election on March 18. Alexei Navalny helped to publicise the event on his blog and videos.

The Moscow mayor’s office and prosecutors warned Yashin that in spite of his position as a legislator he would not be permitted to hold the event. Yashin insisted that the event was completely legal and no different from the multitude of other, non-political festivals that are organised all the time by local legislators. On the morning of the event police prevented a stage from being set up and confronted Yashin outside his home. Yashin cancelled the event and instead called on people just to come to Lermontov Square for a rally. Several hundred, possibly over a thousand, showed up.

“Putin’s a thief!” 

Yashin came to the rally and gave a speech in the middle of the crowd about the authorities’ efforts to stop free elections. He led chants of “Putin’s a thief!” and “We’re the government here!” Local legislator Yulia Galyamina also spoke. Navalny had said he would try to appear, but was delayed by problems preparing his nomination paperwork as a presidential candidate and couldn’t get there.

Yashin was a friend of the late Boris Nemtsov and completed his unfinished report about Russian troops in Ukraine, as well as writing his own report about the tyrannical rule of Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya. Kadyrov is suspected of involvement in the murder of Nemtsov.

Today also the Central Electoral Commission officially registered Vladimir Putin as a candidate. YouTube briefly removed yesterday’s video by Navalny calling for protests in Russia on January 28, but put it back and sent him an apology, explaining that they had thought the list of links to regional VKontakte protest pages was spam. Navalny’s campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, is due to come out of prison in Nizhny Novgorod later after serving a 30-day sentence there.

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