Strategy 31 Protesters Vow To March at End of Month

Strategy 31 Protesters Vow To March at End of Month

Published: October 26, 2011 (Issue # 1680)

Organizers of the Strategy 31 rally for the defense of the right to assembly have said they will hold a rally despite City Hall’s refusal to sanction it, and asked opposition parliamentary candidates to join the demo due on Monday, Oct. 31.

“Prove that you are opposition in practice; don’t just shout it from your soapboxes,” they urged in an address to the registered parties the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), A Just Russia and Yabloko Democratic Party on Sunday.

“Express your disagreement with police violence against participants of the peaceful rally.”

The organizers said the coming rally would take the form of a march from Gostiny Dvor on Nevsky Prospekt to the Legislative Assembly on St. Isaac’s Square. As well as the right to assembly, the protesters will demand fair elections and protest the planned return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency, they said in a news release.

City Hall has never authorized Strategy 31 rallies — named so after article 31 of the constitution that guarantees the right to assembly — and regularly sends the police to break up the demos.

This time, City Hall rejected five routes suggested by the organizers, offering the remote Polyushrovsky Park as an alternative, to which the protesters did not agree.

Meanwhile, two Other Russia activists have received short prison sentences for holding a small rally calling on people to boycott the forthcoming State Duma elections as illegitimate near Gostiny Dvor on Saturday.

Igor Chepkasov and Sergei Chepiga were sentenced to four and three days in prison, while the three other detained activists were released Monday after being held for nearly two days.

One of them was the mother of a young child, and should therefore not have been detained for more than three hours by law, the Other Russia said in a statement Monday.

During the protest, the activists held up a black banner reading “Elections with No Opposition Are a Crime,” burned flares and distributed leaflets.

Along with several other oppositional political parties, the Other Russia failed to get registered by the authorities and is therefore excluded from the elections. The party will call on people to boycott the election and protest the exclusion of oppositional parties at a rally on election day, Dec. 4.

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