Demonstrators Speak Out in St. Petersburg

Around 1000 people demonstrated against the Kremlin in St. Petersburg Sunday, the Sobkor®ru news agency reports, even as instigators tried to disrupt the event.

The demonstrators, who came together for an opposition demonstration known as a March of Dissent in the city, carried flags and shouted slogans like “shame on the authorities”, and handed out leaflets. Protestors called for the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and said the authorities should be changed, and not the Russian constitution. The meeting took place in the Chernyshevsky Gardens, and was sanctioned by city authorities.

Police were present at the event as well, but did not interfere with the demonstration. Activists also noted a heightened presence of police in the city center.

As the event went on, around 10 young men arrived at the meeting, bearing signs that said “Free Khodorkovsky,” “Obama,” and “We are for a nuclear-free Russia.” Other protestors took their signs and identified them as instigators.

Speakers at the meeting warned that “in the near future, pay and pensions will be delayed, there will be mass layoffs and growth in prices,” and blamed the economic crisis on “irresponsible policies” by former President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

According to St. Petersburg police, 60 demonstrators were arrested, mostly in the center of the city and not at the main protest.

One of the event’s organizers, Olga Kurnosova, reported that her home had been surrounded by squad cars since early morning. Kurnosova, who heads the local branch of the United Civil Front party, became ill during the day and called for an ambulance. The ambulance was stopped and questioned by the officers as it arrived. At the moment, Kurnosova is in a clinic ward, with three officers from the UBOP organized crime squad standing by.