Russia’s Investigative Committee this week dropped rioting charges against five people who had taken part in protests over opposition candidates being barred from running in upcoming elections to the Moscow city parliament. It also asked for two more suspects to be released from pretrial detention centers and put under house arrest instead. On the same day, courts started handing down prison sentences to people convicted of using violence against law enforcement officers during the protests. It seems that the crisis that started to form in mid-August in the authorities’ repressive reaction to the protests is taking shape. Mass prosecutions like those seen following protests on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in 2012 are quickly falling apart, but as before, the authorities are not prepared to forgive the use of violence against the security services.

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