Police officers are gathering materials needed to open an administrative case against Astrakhan opposition politician Oleg Shein for instigating a de-facto unsanctioned rally, a spokesman for Astrakhan police said on Sunday.
Shein, A Just Russia party member, and a number of his supporters have been on hunger strike since March 16 in a protest against allegedly rigged Astrakhan mayoral elections where he was outrun by Mikhail Stolyarov, a candidate from ruling United Russia party.
A group of Moscow politicians, including A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov and party chair Nikolay Levichev, as well as prominent bloggers and public figures arrived in Astrakhan on Saturday to back Shein and meet with State Duma deputies.
Under Russian law, such meetings do not need approval from officials. However, police say that the campaign had all of the inherent attributes of a rally. There was tension on the streets of Astrakhan in Russia’s biggest post election protest outside Moscow. Anti-Putin demonstrators marched in support of Shein, who has has already become a symbol of defiance.
“These were not meetings with deputies as they initially said; there was a march and there was an unsanctioned meeting. All of the inherent stuff was there, that’s why police officers have gone to Shein to open an administrative protocol,” said Petr Rusanov, chief of the press service of the Astrakhan Region’s branch of the Interior Ministry.