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Moscow Erupts Into Violence Amid Protests, Over 1,000 Arrests

More than 1,000 protesters and several opposition leaders were arrested in Moscow Saturday amid sweeping protests over local elections.

Protesters assembled outside Moscow’s mayoral office Saturday to protest the decision to exclude opposition candidates from city council elections set to take place September 8, reports the Associated Press.

The protest was organized by prominent opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, who was arrested Wednesday for calling the protest.

“I have been detained and am now at a police station,” Navalny confirmed on Instagram. He is now serving 30 days in jail.

Navalny was not the only politician apprehended. Opposition figures Ilya Yashin, Dmitry Gudkov, Lyubov Sobol and top Navalny associate Ivan Zhdanov were also taken into custody Saturday before the protests began. All were released later in the day, reports The AP.

The protests lasted over seven hours and covered two locations. The demonstrations began outside the mayor’s office but were eventually forced to relocate to a public square half a mile away. By the conclusion of the day, 1,074 of the estimated 3,500 protesters had been arrested according to state news outlets Tass and RIA-Novosti, reports The AP.

There have been reports of police beating people to the ground with truncheons. Moscow city councilwoman Aleksandra Parushina attended the protest, receiving a hefty blow to the head from police.

During the protest, officers raided Navalny’s video studio, shutting down their YouTube broadcast of the demonstration, arresting program leader Vladimir Milonov in the process. Internet TV station Dozhd was also targeted for its coverage of the protests. Dozhd’s editor in chief Alexandra Perepelova will be subjected to questioning at  the Investigative Committee, according to Fox News.

Raiding internet broadcasting stations has not, however, stopped the dissemination of protest footage which has already been posted to Twitter.

Moscow city council elections have not always been such a contentious affair. The Moscow City Council has 45 seats, all of which are up for grabs in September as council members’ 5 year terms expire. Presently, the council is controlled by the pro-Putin United Russia Party, reports the AP. The hegemony of the party is threatened by opposition members, who allege this is why they have been banned from the ballot.

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