Thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday in central Moscow to demonstrate against political and justice systems that they see as unfair, and to demand the release of fellow opposition activists.
The rally was organized by the same figures that were behind the string of protests in the Russian capital in July and August, some of which defied the law, ending with mass arrests.
The latest event, however, was properly sanctioned by the city and was peaceful. In a rare case of agreement on estimates, both the Moscow police and the organizers said that some 20,000 participants braved the cold rainy weather to take part.
The rally saw people holding Russian flags and banners demanding the release of activists that had clashed with police – some of them got real jail sentences.
Meanwhile, opposition figures delivered anti-government speeches and several guest musicians performed. Candidates for the Moscow city council, who were rejected by the election commission over signature collection fraud, were among keynote speakers.
A series of mass protests had swept Moscow over the affair, with thousands taking to the streets, alleging the unfair exclusion of several opposition candidates – notably those linked to Aleksey Navalny – from the candidate list.
Some of the rallies went on without incident, while others were knowingly convened without permission from authorities and which, on several occasions, prompted a massive police response.
In the wake of the chaotic arrests and scuffles, eighteen people faced charges for various crimes – most of them for unlawfully resisting police. The opposition considers all of them to be victims of persecution. Since then, seven of those people have been convicted while charges against five others were dropped.