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Memorial Marred by Clashes, Arrests

Published: January 22, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • Anarchists and anti-fascist activists holding an unauthorized march on Vasilyevsky Ostrovs Bolshoi Prospekt Sunday.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

At least ten anti-fascist demonstrators were detained in St. Petersburg on Sunday, during the fifth anniversary of the double murder of anti-fascist activists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova in Moscow. The event was marked across Russia and in a number of European countries.

A group of around 50 anarchists and anti-fascist activists assembled for an unauthorized march on Bolshoi Prospekt on Vasilyevsky Ostrov Sunday, partly obstructing traffic. Some members of the crowd threw smoke bombs, lit flares and chanted anti-fascist and anti-capitalist slogans.

Earlier, the city administration refused to authorize either a march or a full-fledged rally in memory of Markelov and Baburova based on what organizers call a technicality. According to the organizers, the committee on law, order and public security declined to accept the application on Dec. 31 because it was more than 15 days ahead of the event.

When the organizers submitted the application on the first working day of the new year, Jan. 9, they were told that it had been submitted too late. The law stipulates that applications be submitted between ten to 15 working days ahead of any planned rally. The activists were given permission instead to hold an assembly on the Field of Mars on the condition that sound-amplifying equipment was not used. After meeting on the Field of Mars, some activists decided to go ahead with the unauthorized rally.

Moving quickly, the marchers walked about 650 meters amid smoke and stopped cars, carrying flares, red-and-black anarchist flags and banners reading Anarchism. Anti-Fascism. Autonomous Action and Lets Protect the City from Fascism. The activists dispersed when a police van stopped next to them six minutes after they started to march. Two police officers detained two young women who appeared to be with the marchers and took them to the 20th precinct station located nearby. Later, the activists and the Help for the Detained group reported three more detentions. All those arrested were charged with jaywalking.

Neo-Nazis Attack Anti-Fascist Group

Five or six people were also detained for an alleged altercation with neo-Nazis in a cafe on Ploshchad Vosstaniya. According to eyewitness reports, neo-Nazis followed the anti-fascist activists to the site where the unsanctioned march was initially scheduled to be held at 4:30 p.m. and reportedly initiated the clash. According to one of the anti-fascist activists who asked not to be named, a criminal misconduct case was opened after several nationalists filed reports with the police. Organizers postponed the start of the march until 6 p.m. and moved the location to Vasilyevsky Ostrov.

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