Barring of Moscow council candidates draws 12,000 to protest

People with national flags and various political party flags gather during a protest in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, July 20, 2019. Masses of people gathered in central Moscow to demand that opposition candidates be included on ballots for an upcoming city parliament election in September. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

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MOSCOW (AP) — About 12,000 people have turned out to protest the Moscow election commission’s decision to reject several opposition figures as candidates in the Russian capital’s city council election.

The commission last week rejected signatures the candidates gathered to get on the fall ballot.

Demonstrator Maria Semyonova said at Saturday’s rally: “They are making North Korea of our country, depriving us of freedom and rights.”

Alexi Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, told the crowd that if the barred candidates were not allowed to register by next Saturday, he would call for protests at the office of Moscow’s mayor and “we won’t leave.”

Moscow police said the protest was sanctioned and no arrests were reported.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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