Russian Rights Commissioner Stands by the Other Russia

Vladimir Lukin.  Source: Kommersant newspaperVladimir Lukin, Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner, has spoken out against the way Moscow authorities handled a May 6th opposition demonstration, the Sobkor®ru news agency reports. Replying to a complain filed by Lev Ponomarev, the head of the “For Human Rights” movement, Lukin called the city’s ban on the protest, unlawful.

According to Lukin, organizers of the protest, called the March of Dissent, were fully compliant with the law, by informing City Hall of the event 15 days in advance. A response from the mayor’s office, however, came later than required. Lukin added that while the reply offered for organizers to choose a different location, it did not propose an alternate route. In Lukin’s opinion, “this could be appraised as an avoidance of approving a peaceful meeting and demonstration.”

In connection with this, Lukin suggest that organizers of the “March of Dissent” use the legal process to explore the matter. For his part, Lukin promised to “follow the course of the trial closely, and reserve the right to express his point of view regarding the adopted court decisions.”

The March of Dissent was supposed to take place in Moscow on May 6th, but was cancelled by organizers out of fear for the safety of participants. Victor Biryukov, head of the information management and public relations department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, had personally promised United Civil Front director Denis Bilunov that protestors would not be arrested if the march was called off. Still, some 60 demonstrators were arrested as they walked to the planned gathering spot. As result, around 15 people were sentenced to administrative arrests ranging from 3 to 13 days.