17:32 GMT +321 February 2017
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    Moscow government authorizes 30,000-strong opposition rally

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    Opposition activists have been allowed to hold a 30,000-strong rally in downtown Moscow on Saturday to protest the results of the December 4 parliamentary elections, a deputy mayor of the Russian capital said.

    Opposition activists have been allowed to hold a 30,000-strong rally in downtown Moscow on Saturday to protest the results of the December 4 parliamentary elections, a deputy mayor of the Russian capital said.

    “The rally organizers agreed to hold the rally on Bolotnaya Square offered to them by Moscow authorities in order to ensure that security measures are observed,” Deputy Mayor Alexander Gorbenko told journalists.

    Earlier the opposition planned to hold the rally in another place in the capital’s center, on Revolution Square, but the number of people the Moscow administration authorized to come was 300. As thousands had voiced their intention to take part, the city government changed the venue.

    The ruling United Russia party won Sunday’s State Duma elections with 49.3 percent of the vote. The Communist Party received 19.2 percent, A Just Russia, 13.25 percent, and the Liberal Democrats, 12 percent. Other parties did not clear the 7-percent election threshold. Thousands of people went out to protest the results on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and hundreds were detained.

    Some observers and critics claimed the vote was slanted in favor of the governing party and cited ballot stuffing at certain polling places. President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denied vote rigging, saying the elections were fair.

    Gorbenko said the rally was authorized to be held from 2 p.m. Moscow time (1100 GMT) to 6 p.m. Moscow time (1500 GMT).

    Boris Nemtsov, a co-chairman of the unregistered Parnas opposition party, confirmed to the Echo of Moscow radio that the organizers agreed to the changed terms.

     

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