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Opposition Prepares for May Day Celebrations

Published: April 16, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • A lone protester standing near the corner of Dumskaya Ulitsa and Nevsky Prospekt.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

As local democrats argued over their slogans ahead of the upcoming May Day march, anti-war protests continued on Sunday with an unauthorized gathering near Kazan Cathedral and a series of one-man protests on Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburgs main street.

About 200 people gathered at Kazan Cathedral on Sunday to protest against censorship, the shuttering of independent media outlets and anti-Ukrainian propaganda by state-controlled media. Originally, a March of Truth was due to be held on that day but City Hall refused to authorize the rally and suggested that it be moved to the remote Polyustrovsky Park in the north of the city.

They always find some reasons to deny the rallies, I didnt even look into the details, organizer Natalya Tsymbalova, one of the leaders of the Democratic St. Petersburg coalition, told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.

They cite repair work or other events [taking place at the same place at the same time]; its a game we know all too well. Instead, they offered Polyushrovsky Park, which doesnt suit us at all because its far from the center, from the metro and far from other people. We didnt even consider it because to agree to such an option means not to respect oneself.

The rally was due to be held on the same date as the March of Truth in Moscow but authorities there refused to authorize the event as a march, permitting only a stationary rally instead. Several thousand people were reported to have attended the rally in Moscow.

At the rally in St. Petersburg, some people held placards reading Hands off of independent media, Truth. Nothing but the truth. and Dont forget to switch off the television, but many made direct reference to Ukraine.

Putins media, stop lying about Ukraine, read a placard signed Democratic St. Petersburg and held by coalition activist Vsevolod Nelayev. Down with the power of the KGB. Enough lying. Hands off of Ukraine, read another.

The last wave of clampdowns on freedom of speech and attacks against independent media, such as those against the Grani.ru website and Dozhd television, was definitely connected with Ukraine, Tsymbalova said.

The wave of propaganda that we see now was also connected to Ukraine and we should speak out about it, even if it might prove unpopular. We have no fear of unpopular subjects. Its more important to us than gaining electoral advantages.

Several young men who tried to provoke the protesters by speaking in support by Russian President Vladimir Putin and against Ukraine were seen at the rally, but no clashes were reported. The police did not make any arrests, although some protesters received warnings and some had their names and passport details taken down by officers.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

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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