Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Moscow today to demand free elections for the city's legislative council. Elections are set for September 8, and Russian thug and autocrat Vladimir Putin, whose party currently dominates the council, has been eager to crush opposition. The protesters were defying a ban by the Kremlin that was imposed on previous marches that erupted in police violence against the demonstrators. According to the Reuters report:
"The demonstrators have been demanding that opposition candidates be allowed to stand in the election. Around 30 of them - mostly running as independents - have been dropped from the race by the election commission which said they had too many fake voter signatures. [snip] Protesters are now also calling for the release of activists detained over earlier rallies, and opposition activist Lyubov Sobol on Saturday described the arrests as 'mayhem' blaming it on the city government and Putin’s office."Putin has been running a thugocracy comparable to an organized crime family, and won't give up the power or the wealth that he's gained at any level in Russia, including a city council. Crushing dissidents and journalists has become the modus operandi for Putin to maintain his hold on Russia. After the dissemination of the leaked offshore banking documents dubbed the "Panama Papers" in 2016, the extent of Putin's wealth and corruption became known, and part of his calculation in suppressing opposition forces is to avoid the fate of his Ukrainian puppet Viktor Yanukovich, who was toppled in 2014 by a popular uprising against his corruption and links to the Kremlin.
Unfortunately for the democratic forces in Russia, Putin installed his man in the Oval Office in 2016. Otherwise, the U.S. would be, at the very least, cheering them on.