Around 50 thousands of Moscovites expressed their solidarity with rejected the access to elections opposition politicians participating in a demonstration “For Freedom and Justice” . The last five weeks the demands for fair elections and inclusion of independent candidates in upcoming municipal ballot united people from different views and backgrounds.
The crowd gathered under umbrellas in spite of rain, while riot police and vans have cordoned off the area in anticipation of a possible further march of participants through the city center following the event.
People chanted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “thief”,
“White Counter”, an independent activist group that tracks attendance at Russian demonstrations, estimated the Moscow crowd at around 47 thousand by 3:30 PM local time, but people still were arriving.
Moscow police, suspected by critics of deliberately diminishing the numbers of protesters in official statistics, assess that 20,000 people participated in the event.
In spite of the outstanding support independent candidate Lubov Sobol was arrested, according to TASS Russian news agency wire.
The participants of the demonstration are putting forward the following demands:
1. Withdraw the criminal and administrative cases that have been opened against participants of peaceful protests during last five weeks.
2. Release the illegally arrested in the criminal case of the so-called riots and withdraw the case.
3. Publicly investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating election laws and building a mechanism of political repression.
4. Resignation of the head of election commission Valentin Gorbunov and lustration of the members of election commissions at all levels.
5. At the fall session of the State Duma, amend the electoral law and lift the signature barrier.
Simultaneously there were demonstrations in support of independent candidates and fair and free elections in the other Russian cities.
AMENDED: video of independent candidate Lubov Sobol arrest in Moscow. She has registered video of storming of her accommodation by OMON (anti-riot police).
Gabi ZIMMER MEP shares her impressions on President Emmanuel Macron debate in EP Plenary Strasbourg (17/04/2018). Keeping critical eye on French President’s calls and promises, she ZIMMER agues one can not enhance democracy on European scale, without respecting it at home. Recent events in France, when President Macron jointed US and UK bombing of #Syria without consulting Assemblee Nationale, without waiting for the results of the #OPCW experts. ZIMMER denounces power-politics thinking, as rudiment of the past, putting forward new thinking of XXI century aligned with international law and democratic institutions, including #EU. ZIMMER warns about risks of military action outside the UN mandate, adventures, putting world at risk of an accidental clash between nuclear superpowers. She also questions President Macron’s decision to flaunt French military powers, preferring force to diplomatic talks, badly needed to restore peace in Syria.
Jordi Solé i Ferrando, MEP, OPINION
Those who would deny Catalonia’s right to self-determination said back in 2015 that Catalan voters would never elect a majority of pro-independence MPs to our parliament, but we did.
Then they said that the pro-independence coalition would be too divided to agree on a new President and a new government, but we did. Then the talk was about the impossibility of passing the budget for 2017, and that would put an early end to the legislative term. But it didn’t happen.
Now opponents of the referendum say that it will never take place. But since last Friday we already know the date – the 1st of October, and question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?” – of the self-determination referendum, and during the coming weeks Catalans will officially be called to vote. Looking at the track record of those who would deny Catalans the opportunity to decide on our own political future, it is indeed a good sign that they keep saying we will never vote. This is possibly the best reassurance that just the opposite will happen.
In a democracy, how do you prevent a much awaited and widely called-for vote from taking place?
In a democracy, can a vote really be illegal, especially when it comes after all other alternative roads have been blocked by a central government unable and unwilling to negotiate and compromise?
These are the questions that come to mind when we hear from the Spanish government that they will do whatever it takes to impede the vote. Of course, we take it for granted that threats and pressures of every kind and on many people will continue to come from the Spanish government and judiciary. But this won’t make us depart from our commitment to make democracy prevail. We have a democratic mandate to let Catalans vote, and we will honour it. It is our basic democratic rights that are at stake. As the prominent football trainer Pep Guardiola stated clearly last Sunday in Barcelona before a crowd supporting the October referendum, “we will vote even if the Spanish government does not want us to”. It is certainly not us who is afraid of democracy.
Jordi Solé i Ferrando
Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya
“The measures taken yesterday against three Members of Parliament of the eoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) , including both of its Co-Chairs, further add to the concerns expressed both following the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s adoption last May of a law allowing the immunity of a large number of deputies to be lifted as well as in the wake of ensuing detentions and arrests of several HDP Members of Parliament, including its two Co-Chairs”, – says the statement of the European External Action Service.
“The full and effective participation of all democratically elected political parties in the legislature is an essential element of Turkey’s international commitments and its status as a candidate country.”
“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding developments which can weaken the rule of law, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and parliamentary democracy in Turkey.”
“The EU, together with the Council of Europe, continues to follow and assess the situation very closely in the framework of its comprehensive engagement with Turkey.”