Russian police cracked down hard Saturday on demonstrators in central Moscow, beating some people and arresting hundreds of others protesting the exclusion of opposition candidates from the ballot for Moscow city council, the AP reports. Police also stormed into a TV station broadcasting the protest. Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor's office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised. OVD-Info, an organization that monitors political arrests in Russia, said 779 people were detained. Moscow police earlier said 295 people had been taken in, but did not immediately give a final figure. Along with the arrests, several opposition activists who wanted to run for the council were arrested throughout the city before the protest.
Alexei Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition figure, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail for calling an unauthorized protest. The protesters, who police said numbered about 3,500, shouted slogans including "Russia will be free!" and "Who are you beating?" One young woman was seen bleeding heavily after being struck on the head. Police eventually dispersed protesters from the area of the mayor's office, but many demonstrators reassembled at a nearby square, where new arrests began. The decision by electoral authorities to bar some opposition candidates from running in a September city council election—for having allegedly insufficient signatures on their nominating petitions—had already sparked several days of demonstrations even before Saturday's clashes in Moscow.
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