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article imageRussia arrests five in mass unrest probe

By AFP     Aug 2, 2019 in World

Five men were on Friday placed in pre-trial detention in Russia until late September as part of a probe into mass unrest following a peaceful protest urging fair elections.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow last Saturday after authorities refused to allow prominent opposition candidates to stand for the city parliament in September elections.

Almost 1,400 people were arrested during the unsanctioned rally.

Investigators this week launched a probe into what they said was "mass unrest", which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, and violence against police, targeting both organisers and participants.

On Friday, a Moscow court ordered the detention of Alexey Minyaylo -- a well-known activist and aide to Lyubov Sobol -- an independent politician who has fought to get on the ballot.

Ivan Podkopayev, Kirill Zhukov, Samariddin Radzhabov and Yegor Zhukov will also be kept in detention until September 27 pending their trial.

Like Minyaylo, Kirill Zhukov is a lawyer for the Russian human rights NGO, Agora. Radzhabov is also an independent lawyer, while Yegor Zhukov is a student and video blogger, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency.

A further five people were arrested in connection with the probe on Friday, Russian agencies reported.

Another unsanctioned demonstration is planned for Saturday, despite warnings from authorities.

The opposition denies widespread unrest, insisting that last weekend's rally was peaceful and that police used violence against protesters, not the other way around.

AFP journalists at the scene saw police using batons on protesters.

Nearly all prominent opposition leaders and many independent would-be candidates were detained ahead of the rally and jailed for up to 30 days.

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