Russian Activists Detained For Protest Favoring Mayoral Elections

Two activists from the opposition Solidarity movement have been arrested in the capital of Russia’s southeastern Republic of Buryatiya for holding an unsanctioned protest.

Several members of the Communist Party and the local Coalition For Free Elections nongovernmental organization picketed the city Duma with Solidarity activists on March 31.

Nadezhda Nizovkina and Tatyana Stetsura handcuffed themselves to the door of the city administration building to protest the Ulan-Ude City Duma’s hearings on the possible abolition of the city’s direct election for mayor.

Representatives from the local human rights center told RFE/RL that the women were detained because the action was not sanctioned by authorities.

Stetsura told RFE/RL that abolishing the election for mayor of Ulan-Ude would be a violation of citizens right to elect their leaders.

The city Duma postponed discussion of the issue, which was scheduled for March 31 after the protest.

Stetsura told RFE/RL by phone from the police station that she had been beaten while being questioned.

In January, Nizovkina and Stetsura were each fined 100,000 rubles ($3,300) for “inciting hatred and hostility.” They were then sentenced for distributing leaflets in Ulan-Ude in 2008-2009 that were critical of the army and the police.

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