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Russia: over a thousand protesters arrested in Moscow. Condemnation from Council of Europe and EU

Concern has been expressed by Europe over the arrest and detention of over 1,300 people in the centre of Moscow on Saturday, 27 July, who were demonstrating against the electoral authorities’ decision to ban some candidates from standing in Moscow city council elections in September. According to Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, “the massive arrests” are a “disproportionate reaction of the police”. “Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are essential conditions for democracy”. “In all Council of Europe member states and, in general, in any open, democratic and pluralist society, all opinions, including those critical of the authorities, should be freely expressed”, Ms Pasquier said. The EU’s External Action Service, too, released a statement on Saturday evening in which reference was made to the Moscow demonstration as well as to the “worrying series of arrests and police raids against opposition politicians” carried out last week, which “once again seriously undermine the fundamental freedoms” enshrined in the Russian constitution: “We expect” Russian authorities to respect them together with “OSCE commitments and other international obligations” ahead of the elections.

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