Amnesty International has called on the Russian authorities “to respect the right to peaceful protests” ahead of rallies against alleged electoral fraud due to be held in Moscow and other 78 Russian cities, the organization said on its website on Wednesday.
Some 1,000 people have so far been detained across Russia in demonstrations against suspected vote fraud at Sunday’s parliamentray polls.
“The scale of arrests has not been in any way justified,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia. “We fear that the Russian police are simply quashing opposition protest, no matter how peaceful.”
The human rights watchdog also called on the Russian authorities “to rein in the police.”
Over 25,000 people in Facebook and more than 16,000 users in Russia’s leading social network, VKontakte, have so far said that they will attend a sanctioned protest in downtown Moscow, planned for Saturday. Opposition leader Vladimir Milov warned on Thursday in an interview with the Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio station there could be bloodshed at the rally and warned people to stay away.
City authorities have cautioned the Solidarnost opposition group that they would face charges if more than the 300 people sanctioned for the march turned up. The square was closed off for what officials say is sewage repair work on Wednesday.