MOSCOW, March 10 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s opposition will organise a rally For Honest Elections in the very centre of Moscow in Novy Arbat Street on Saturday. Organisers expect about 50,000 participants.
The rally will continue the actions, which were organised in Moscow immediately after the elections to the State Duma in December of past year.
Official police reports say that every rally on December 10, December 24 and on February 4 featured about 30,000 participants, while organisers say about 100,000. The police report that the rally For Honest Elections in Pushkin Square on March 5 gathered about 14,000, while the organisers claim 20,000.
The rhetoric of the rallies has been changing and the latest actions voiced anti-Putin slogans. But organisers say that the agenda of the rally on Saturday will be different – “proofs of violations at the presidential election in Russia” and “tactics of further actions.” Speakers will feature observers who, they claim, have witnessed mass falsifying. The observers include deputies elect and reporters.
The Moscow Mayor’s Office approved the rally from 13:00 through to 16:00 Moscow time between Novinsky and Gogolevsky boulevards. Protesters will gather on the sidewalk and the parking area.
The police warned they would prevent violations of public order. “About 2,500 policemen, Interior Ministry Forces’ servicemen and volunteers will stand guard during the rally,” the city police department told Itar-Tass. “The Moscow police will do everything to prevent violations of public order. Any illegal actions will be stopped immediately, in strict compliance with effective laws, and the culprits will be prosecuted.”
It is not planned to suspend traffic in the rally area, “but the police may have to limit or even stop traffic along Novy Arbat in the case the crowd is too large,” the department sad.
The Saturday rally will continue thousands-strong street protests, which started in Moscow after the parliamentary election in late December 2012. About 200 people, among them Sergei Udaltsov, Ilya Yashin and Alexei Navalny, were seized in an attempt to hold an unauthorized action after the permitted opposition rally on March 5. All of them are free now.
Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin condemned the unauthorized action attempt. “While criticizing the police, we must understand that the violence was triggered by certain organizers of the rally. Sergei Udaltsov guided with his radical revolutionary ideas called on rally participants to stay on the square until Putin leaves,” he wrote in the LiveJournal. “I think that both the police and the ‘heroes’ who are prepared to spill their own and somebody else’s blood, like revolutionaries did in the past, shall be called responsible. Radical actions should be held separately from large rallies, in which the majority of people do not want to be hit on the head with a club.”