Russian Opposition Will Stage “Day of Dissent”

The Other Russia opposition coalition has designated January 31st, 2009 a “Day of Dissent,” and is encouraging people discontented with the political situation in Russia to take to the streets in Moscow. Ludmila Mamina, the group’s press-secretary, told the Sobkor®ru news agency that a number of organizations would stage individual events across the Russian capital. The protests will start at 2:00 PM, Mamina said.

Activists will speak out for protecting constitutional rights and the freedom of assembly, according to Mamina. Demonstrators will also call for the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s Government, which they say is responding ineffectually to the economic crisis.

The Other Russia, which brings together a group of Russian political parties including Garry Kasparov’s United Civil Front, has previously staged demonstrations named “Marches of Dissent” across Russia. In the past, city officials have refused to sanction protests, and several demonstrations were violently disrupted by police. Estimated attendance has numbered in the thousands at each protest.

Moscow authorities refused to grant a permit for the most recent March of Dissent on December 14th 2008. In response, one of the Other Russia’s leaders, Eduard Limonov, announced on December 15th that working with officials was a fruitless effort.

“In past years, the [Moscow] Mayor’s office has simply mocked us,” he said. “You can’t call it anything else. They have denied us the opportunity to hold an event, saying that the site [for the demonstration] is already taken.”

Limonov suggested that organizers would no longer seek permission from city officials, and that his group would switch from large-scale, central Marches of Dissent to a de-centralized Day of Dissent.

“We no longer want to schedule meetings with those who beat us,” he said.

Still, a spokesman for the Other Russia told RIA Novosti that individual groups would choose for themselves whether to apply for permits from authorities.