Petersburg deputy governors reach out to opposition at protest

Two of St. Petersburg’s deputy governors took the stage at an opposition rally in the city on Sunday in an apparent bid to woo voters ahead of city and national legislative elections in December.

The “March for the protection of St. Petersburg” was attended by about 350 people, including representatives of opposition parties such as Yabloko, the Communist Party and A Just Russia.

Roman Filimonov and Igor Metelsky – the deputy governors – are believed to be the first high ranking city officials to speak at such an event. Filimonov said they came on the initiative of the mayor, Valentina Matvienko, who he credited with launching a dialogue with public organizations.

Metelsky said the mayor’s office was always ready to talk, and called on the public to “trust those who are engaged in constructive dialogue,” not people who just want “to take the place of bureaucrats.”

The officials were met with boos and shouts of “Resign!”

The gathering was in part a celebration of activists’ defeat of the Okhta Tower project, which would have seen Russian energy giant Gazprom build a 400-meter skyscraper on the banks of the Neva River near downtown, but also saw a range of protests, including for the city’s architectural heritage, and against the construction of a floating nuclear power plant in a city shipyard.

ST. PETERSBURG, April 3 (RIA Novosti)

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