Court Orders Chistiye Prudi Closed

Court Orders Chistiye Prudi Closed

Published: May 16, 2012 (Issue # 1708)

MOSCOW — A Moscow court ruled Tuesday that the opposition camp on Chistoprudny Bulvar be shut down, Interfax reported.

Speculation that police were preparing to clear the camp raged in recent days, fueled by reports of complaints from local residents.

The Basmanny Court handed down the ruling in response to such complaints about the camp, where numbers have ranged from dozens to more than a thousand demonstrators for over a week.

More than a dozen neighborhood residents petitioned the court, citing the “inaction of authorities” and “troublemakers of the protest action.” City Hall also said it had received more than 50 complaints about the camp.

It appeared on Tuesday that pressure was rising on activists to vacate the camp, despite assurances from a senior official Monday that City Hall was not planning to kick them out.

“We’re not against people expressing their opinion, but a crowd is a scary thing. If something happens, everybody runs into the courtyards where our children play after school,” said Yelena Salynina, who was part of the group suing the city over the camp and whose child attends School 310 near Chistiye Prudy, Interfax reported Tuesday.

Salynina told journalists that parents have stopped taking their children for walks along Chistoprudny Bulvar and don’t let them play alone in the courtyards. Others complained about alcohol being consumed in courtyards and inappropriate graffiti.

Opposition leader Ilya Yashin said residents’ complaints against the administration of the central administrative district was in fact an attempt by the authorities to clear the camp.

“I have no doubt that the court is being used to kick us out. The authorities understand the pointlessness of muscling us out, so they’ll try to squeeze us out by other means,” he said, Interfax reported.

The May 6 rally, like large protests in December and February, was promoted on Facebook and other social networks — and a United Russia deputy in the State Duma has asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to take steps against the owners and users of social network accounts linked to the clashes.

Facebook and Twitter “effectively became instruments for coordinating extremist activities,” Deputy Alexander Khinshtein wrote in the request, Interfax reported Monday.

Undeterred by a possible check, the opposition has set up a Facebook page for a mass rally on the Russia Day holiday on June 12. About 1,000 people had signed up to attend as of Monday afternoon.

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