Supporters of a losing opposition mayoral candidate, in south Russia’s city of Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, staged a rally on Saturday in his support, RIA Novosti reported.
Shein, A Just Russia party member, and a number of his supporters have been on hunger strike since March 16 in a protest against allegedly rigged Astrakhan mayoral elections where he was outrun by Mikhail Stolyarov, a candidate from ruling United Russia party.
The rally that was organized both by Astrakhan and Moscow opposition, drew from 300 to 350 people, according to police estimates. The participants of the meeting said there were almost 1,500 people.
The opposition was supposed to turn up at the central square but it was cordoned off by the police after the meeting in support of the incumbent mayor, Stolyarov finished at the same venue. The participants then marched down the streets towards the City Hall.
“No measures will be taken against protesters. There are no clashes that is why we are just watching and keeping the situation under control,” a spokesman for the local police said.
Three people who attempted to break the police cordon around the City Hall have been detained, RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the scene.
A total of 15 members of the A Just Russia party, including its leader Sergey Mironov came to Astrakhan to support Shein. A famous anti-corruption crusader Alexey Navalny and the leader of the opposition Solidarnost movement, Ilya Yashin also travelled to the city.
A leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov who announced earlier this week that he had also joined the hunger strike, held the rally in Support of Astrakhan politician on Saturday at Moscow’s Pushkinskaya Square.
Udaltsov said that if Astrakhan authorities refused to run new mayoral elections, Moscow opposition would stage a public hunger strike at one of the central squares.
Yelena Grebenyuk, one of participants of Astrakhan hunger strike, told RIA Novosti on Saturday that they could finish the strike on Monday.
“The hunger strike will last preliminary until Monday evening,” Grebenyuk said.
Shein who is going to file a lawsuit on Monday demanding the elections’ annulment, said he was going to continue the strike. Asked if he would stop the huger strike, the politician said everything would depend on the reaction from the court and Russia’s Central Election Commission.