It is one of the biggest security crackdowns seen in Russia in many years.

An independent monitoring group says more than 800 protesters were detained on Saturday. The week before, the figure was almost 1,400.

A leading opponent of President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, was jailed.

Russians are angry at the exclusion of some candidates from next month's city elections in Moscow.

The council, controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, is responsible for a large municipal budget.

The vote comes at a time when Putin's approval rating has dropped following discontent over the economy and falling incomes, although it is still high at more than 60 percent.

So, why is the government taking such a hard stance against the protesters, and warning their demonstrations are illegal?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra


Viktor Olevich - political analyst and lead expert at the Center for Actual Politics

Domitilla Sagromoso - expert on Russian affairs and lecturer of security and development in the Department of War Studies at King's College London

Pavel Felgenhauer - journalist and columnist for Novaya Gazeta

Source: Al Jazeera News