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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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