MOSCOW, June 12 (RIA Novosti) – A rally in support of opposition activists on trial over last year’s clashes with police took place in Moscow on Wednesday.
Participants of the March Against Executioners retraced the route to the downtown Bolotnaya Square, where 650 people were detained at after a similar rally on May 6, 2012 ended in violence.
Twelve protesters are on trial, and another 16 under investigation over last year’s clashes. Officials say the clashes were instigated by radical opposition leaders, while protest activists speak of police provocations.
City police said 6,600 showed up, while opposition leaders spoke of between 20,000 and 30,000. Last year’s rally attracted 8,000, according to police, or 50,000 to 100,000, according to various independent estimates.
Wednesday’s rally was joined by lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov, opposition politician Vladimir Ryzhkov, protest-minded writer and journalist Dmitry Bykov and whistleblowing lawyer Alexei Navalny, who recently announced plans to run for Moscow mayor in September.
Ten protesters were detained ahead of the rally’s start Wednesday for touting flags of the banned Left Front group, Ovd-Info.org human rights website. Left Front insignia raised no objections from police at previous opposition rallies in Moscow over the past 18 months.
No other incidents were reported at the event. Prosecutors also banned protesters ahead of the rally from carrying “cages” with photos of judges and investigators involved in the ongoing trial, opposition activist Ilya Yashin said on Twitter.
Headline change, minor rewrites throughout to reflect the rally ended. Updates figures for attendance, arrests.