Two Opposition Rallies Planned for Russia Day

Two Opposition Rallies Planned for Russia Day

Published: June 6, 2012 (Issue # 1711)

City Hall has authorized two anti-Putin rallies in the center of St. Petersburg to coincide with the March of Millions opposition rally in Moscow and the Russia Day national holiday on Tuesday.

A rally called “Russia Day Without Putin” will be held on Konyushennaya Ploshchad at 4 p.m. Its organizers include Yabloko, Parnas, The Other Russia, St. Petersburg’s Observers, Solidarity, the National Democrats and ROT Front, The Other Russia’s local chair Andrei Dmitriyev said Tuesday.

Dmitriyev said the protest — part of anti-Putin protests due to be held across Russia — will be specifically directed against the new bill on assemblies that would make fines for alleged violations hundreds of times bigger, and would introduce correctional labor as a punishment.

“We Petersburgers must demonstrate that we’re not scared of these laws, these fines, this correctional labor, and won’t stop taking to the streets,” he said.

“If the law’s authors were expecting street protests to disappear, they are profoundly mistaken.”

The organizers will also protest a new local bill on gubernatorial elections that would require candidates to be nominated by a registered political party and then supported by at least 10 percent of municipal deputies in order to be eligible.

“We’ll have elections between [current Governor Georgy] Poltavchenko and, say, [United Russia deputy Vitaly] Milonov,” he said. “Our demand remains the same — gubernatorial elections within the next 12 months without any ‘filters,’ be they presidential or municipal ones.”

Dmitriyev said the organizers — who include the main spectrum of non-parliamentary opposition — will not take part in a march announced by another opposition group on the same day.

Organizer Olga Kurnosova of the Citizens’ Committee said the other march will start near Oktyabrsky Concert Hall on Ligovsky Prospekt at 3 p.m. and end on Konyshennaya Ploshchad. She said the organizers include the Citizens’ Committee and a group of individuals.

Last week’s Strategy 31, a rally for the defense of the right to freedom of assembly, was held on Thursday “in the form of a walk,” without applying to City Hall for authorization, which has been refused since the nonpartisan campaign started in January 2010. Although protesters did not shout slogans and brought no banners, detentions that resembled preventive arrests were made by the police.

One of the first detained was Vladimir Melnichuk, known for his tattoo “Putin Is a Thief” on his right forearm. No reason was given for the detention.

The Other Russia opposition party’s Sergei Chepiga was arrested as he left Gostiny Dvor store.

All in all about 10 people were detained during the event, according to Kurnosova, who said she was charged with violating the rules on holding assemblies and failure to follow a police officer’s orders.

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