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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Other Russia Kicked Out of Venues

Efforts to choose an opposition candidate for the presidential election are being hindered in Moscow and in other cities, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the vote, opposition coalition The Other Russia said Sunday.

The Other Russia is holding regional meetings across the country to come up with a single opposition candidate for the March presidential vote.

The meeting in Moscow was scheduled for Sunday but had to be postponed after the owners of two successive venues reneged on contracts, said Denis Bilunov, executive director of Garry Kasparov's United Civil Front, part of The Other Russia. The owners of the Moskovskoye Kino movie theater told organizers Friday that they could not meet there because they had not received permission from city authorities. Such permission is unnecessary, and the theater owners -- possibly realizing this -- later provided a different explanation, citing technical problems, Bilunov said.

Organizers scrambled to find another venue and signed a contract with the Izmailovo hotel, but its administration called Saturday and said they could not gather there, he said.

In the Rostov region, Bilunov said, conference participants planned to gather at an artist's studio in the town of Azov, but police blocked the building Saturday and detained some 20 people outside. In Smolensk, several opposition members were also detained, Bilunov said.

"If obstacles are being created in an organized way, this casts doubt on the election's legitimacy," he said.

Bilunov said the problems were likely prompted by local authorities and venue owners worried about upsetting superiors or the government.