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Opposition Claims Rally Led by Civil Servants

Published: March 26, 2014 (Issue # 1803)



  • Official figures put the number of demonstrators at the pro-annexation rally on Konyushennaya Ploshchad at 35,000.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

Opposition and human rights activists have stated that municipal deputies and employees of state-owned enterprises were instructed to attend or send a number of people to a rally in support of the annexation of Crimea held in the city last week.

The rally was part of a national campaign of rallies that were reportedly held in every major Russian city on Mar. 18, hours after a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he announced the annexation of Crimea.

Alexander Shurshev, a municipal council deputy of the Yekateringofsky municipal district and a member of the Civil Platform party, posted on Mar. 17 a letter that he said had been sent by the Admiralteisky District Administration to local municipalities.

The letter stated that a city meeting would be held on Konyushennaya Ploshchad at 5:30 p.m. on Mar. 18 and instructed the heads of municipal units located within Admiralteisky District to organize the participation at the event of deputies of the municipal council and members of the local administration numbering 15 people.

The letter went on to state that information about the participants should be sent to a district administration email address before Mar. 18. The letter did not specify the purpose of the rally.

If such an order was sent to every municipality, that makes 2,000 people not counting all of the state-funded institutions, Shurshev wrote.

The letter appeared to be an authentic official document and bore the name of Diana Chapurina, the deputy head of the district administration, as the sender, but lacked a signature.

Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times on Monday, Shurshev said that such instructions are usually sent without a signature deliberately, so that the sender could later deny his or her involvement. Compelling people to take part in a rally is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison if committed by an official using his or her position, according to Article 149 of the Criminal Code.

It has been well known for long time that the authorities bring administrative personnel and the employees of state-owned enterprises to these kind of rallies, but this is the first time that I received such a letter, Shurshev said.

According to Shurshev, the Admiralteisky District Administration reacted to the posting via its official Twitter account five days later, dismissing it as a forgery.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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