The Russian Duma’s Commission on the Investigation of Foreign Interference in Russia’s Internal Affairs will begin hearings today into last summer’s opposition protests in Moscow.
The investigation comes after weeks of demonstrations over the barring of 30 opposition candidates for the city legislature turned into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013. The committee is investigating whether the US embassy in Moscow, Germany’s Deutsche Welle media outlet and Google meddled by promoting the protests and encouraging people to attend them.
The opposition claims the investigation is a diversion from the success of their candidates, who encouraged voters to cast ballots solely to unseat the ruling United Russia party. Despite preventing candidates from running, United Russia suffered losses in the September 8 vote and now holds only a slim majority in the Moscow legislature—26 of the 45 seats, down from 38.
Analysts have expressed worry over the outcome of the investigation, where an indictment of the foreign entities would give the government reason to further restrict opposition candidates. In that case, further demonstrations are expected. Moving forward, should the ‘practical’ platform of the opposition continue to gain ground, it could spell further trouble for United Russia, which may turn to more restrictive tactics to undermine its opposition.
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