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Tensions Mount Over Mass Protest

Published: December 12, 2008 (Issue # 1433)


City Hall on Thursday downgraded a major oppositional protest event scheduled for Sunday to a stationary meeting at the Chernyshevsky Gardens, far from the city center, organizers said after meeting with officials. The protest is the latest in a series of actions that are known as Dissenters Marches,

Last week, City Hall rejected three routes suggested for the march by the rally organizers, without offering an alternative as they are legally required to do, prompting the applicants to file a lawsuit against the local government on Monday.

Although they have agreed to a stationary meeting at the Chernyshevsky Gardens, the majority of organizers and participants will gather at a previously announced starting point near Gostiny Dvor Metro at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Olga Kurnosova, the local leader of Garry Kasparovs United Civil Front (OGF), said by phone on Thursday.

[Participants will gather] at Gostiny Dvor and move along sidewalks, in an organized way, toward the Chernyshevsky Gardens, Kurnosova said. The approximate distance between the two points is 3 kilometers. The gardens will be open to protesters from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Kurnosova said.

Dissenters Marches were introduced as the main form of mass protest in 2006 by the Other Russia, a pro-democracy coalition formed by OGF and Eduard Limonovs banned National Bolshevik Party. Held several times a year, the marches, which have attracted up to 6,000 protesters at a single event, were frequently dispersed by the OMON special forces police, with many arrests and police beatings reported.

Sundays march is targeted against changes to the Russian Constitution that will prolong the presidential and State Duma terms from four years to six and five years respectively. The measures were proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev last month and are currently being approved by regional parliaments. The way the Kremlin is dealing with the economic crisis will also come in for criticism according to flyers published by the organizers.

Change Those in Power, and Not the Constitution and Authorities, Take Responsibility for the Crisis, stickers advertising the rally state.

Oppositionists said City Hall had no right by Russian law to change the form of the rally from a march to a stationary meeting, but agreed to the offer to avoid clashes with the police.

Unlike the executive authority and law enforcers, first and foremost for us is the safety of civilians, while for them its orders from Moscow, Kurnosova said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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