Opposition Protests Will Go On Despite Ban, Interference

Wide-scale opposition protests, known as Marches of Dissent, will take place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities on December 14th, despite bans and stiff pressure from authorities.

Demonstrations by other groups, including the nationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DNPI) and its “Russia March,” have meanwhile had no trouble obtaining permits.

Authorities were also mobilizing police for the weekend, which corresponds with the 15th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. The document was approved by a public referendum on December 13, 1993.

As the RBK business daily reports, some 45 thousand officers have been mobilized around the country to deal with public demonstrations.

No Agreement Reached With Moscow Mayor’s Office

No agreement has been reached with officials on the location of the December 14th March of Dissent, but organizers said the protest would go ahead as planned. Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, two leaders of the Other Russia opposition coalition, met Wednesday with city authorities, who refused to grant a permit to hold the demonstration in central Moscow.

According to Ludmila Mamina, the press secretary for Kasparov’s United Civil Front, authorities offered two alternate locations, the Tarasa Shevchenko embankment and Bolotnaya Ploschad. Siting the demonstration in the city center was impossible because other events were already planned there, said Valery Kadatsky, a Moscow city public safety official. While the March of Dissent was the first to apply for a permit to the Moscow Mayor’s office, the other events, he said, had received permits from the Central Administrative District, and not the city.

Organizers first turned in the required documents for the protest on December 1st.

Still, the opposition organizers pledged not to change the meeting place and route of the event, and said that the Moscow Mayor’s office was not giving them any choice but to break the law.

“They did not make any concessions,” said Limonov. The alternatives proposed by officials, Limonov added, were “deserted” and would not allow anyone to see the demonstrators. “We argued that a street demonstration is about our desire to show other people how we feel, and there would be no other people to see our demonstration in those places [suggested by the city authorities],” Limonov said.

Mamina said that organizers were willing and ready to change the route of the March, but wanted to keep the demonstration central, and use the Triumfalnaya Ploschad (Triumph square) as an initial assembly point. The group has been advertising this location in leaflets and flyers for over a month.

The March of Dissent will take place on December 14th, starting at 2:00PM in Triumfalnaya Ploschad and moving along Tverskaya ulitsa.

Citing Safety Concerns, St. Petersburg March of Dissent Moved to Chernyshevsky Gardens

Citing concerns for the safety of demonstrators, organizers of the St. Petersburg March of Dissent have accepted an alternate location proposed by city officials. Organizers said the ban on their original location was “illegal,” but feared that protestors could be assaulted by law enforcement if the March went ahead illegally. The March will now take place in the Chernyshevsky Gardens, starting at 2:00PM on Sunday December 14th.

Read their statement on the matter below:

Statement by Organizers of the St. Petersburg March of Dissent

We, the organizers of the March of Dissent, used all the legal means available to us to receive permission from city officials to hold a March of Dissent in St. Petersburg. The march would start at an assembly point by the Gostiny Dvor at 2:00 PM.

We proposed three different routes, but the authorities illegally refused all of them. Under these circumstances, in order to ensure the safety of citizens, we were forced, under fierce pressure from law enforcement agencies, to accept a clearly illegal offer to hold the meeting in the Chernyshevsky Gardens.

We understand that most of the invited citizens will come to the Gostiny Dvor meeting point on December 14th at 2:00 PM, as was earlier announced.

We hope that the militsiya and other agents of the law, who have been thrown in with an order to prevent the March of Dissent, will not interfere with citizens who will proceed peacefully, calmly and without breaking the public peace, from the Gostiny Dvor to the new meeting-place.

All interested participants can come directly to the sanctioned meeting in the Chernyshevsky Gardens.




On behalf of the organizers,

-Olga Kurnosova, leader of the United Civil Front in St. Petersburg

-Maxim Reznik, leader of the St. Petersburg branch of Yabloko

released by the press-service of the United Civil Front.

More resources:
Tensions Mount Over Mass Protest (St. Petersburg Times)
Moscow, St. Petersburg Authorities Move to Curb Opposition Protests