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Opposition action in Moscow not sanctioned, activists want to come out all the same

December 13, 2012, 15:15 UTC+3
The opposition suggested several options for the march of up to 50,000, with each one ending on Lubyanka Square
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MOSCOW, December 13 (Itar-Tass) —— After long negotiations with Moscow’s city authorities, the opposition has failed to get a permit for its March of Freedom planned for December 15. Nonetheless, it says the action will all the same be held in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square. On the one hand, it limits the opposition’s possibilities – it is unlawful to call on people to take part in an unauthorized action, but, on the other hand, if people do come to Lubyanka Square and police try to crackdown on protesters, serious disturbances might follow. Meanwhile, the bulk of Russians, according to opinion polls conducted a year after mass protest actions in Russia’s big cities that followed the parliamentary elections of December 2012, are now showing political apathy.

The action’s organizers and the Moscow Mayor’s Office failed to reach a compromise agreement on possible routes of the opposition march. The opposition has not been allowed to stage its action in any of Moscow’s downtown squares.

The opposition suggested several options for the march of up to 50,000, with each one ending on Lubyanka Square. The authorities however said that traffic suspension around this square in the very centre of Moscow might be fraught with a traffic collapse, despite the fact that the action is to take place on a weekend day. None of the three options offered by the authorities was accepted by the opposition.

“The talks have ended in nothing. We have been offered to hold the action where the Mayor’s Office wants but we are not happy with it. Otherwise, the action will not be authorized,” said Sergei Udaltsov, the Left Front coordinator, who is accused of masterminding mass riots throughout Russia.

“The Mayor’s Office apparently has felt that crisis is maturing in the protest movement and just stopped listening to us,” the Kommersant newspaper quoted Sergei Davidis, a member of the Solidarity movement. “They have lent a deaf ear to us, so we shall all come out to Lubyanka Square on December 15.”

It is planned that participants in the would-be unsanctioned action will lay flowers at the Solovki Stone on Lubyanka Square, a monument to victims of political repressions, stand there for some 15 minutes and go away, not provoking the police.

According to Boris Nemtsov, a co-leader of RPR-PARNAS (Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party), the only reason that underlies the city’s authorities is to strip the opposition of time for agitation. “Under the new law, it is forbidden to invite people to an action until it is authorized,” he said.

The authorities’ plan seems to work, observers say. The time for agitation is lost. Most Moscow residents are unaware of the would-be action. Opposition leaders however have promised to abide by the new law and not to call on people to join the unsanctioned action.

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