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Russian opposition getting ready for protest action on December 15

November 30, 2012, 14:33 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, November 30 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian opposition is getting ready for a new protest action a year after the start of a massive protesting movement in the country, when thousands of Russians in Moscow and other big cities went out in the streets with the demands of fair elections. However, according to the media reports, the law enforcement agencies opened one more criminal case against the oppositionists.

The opposition March of Freedom will be held in Moscow on December 15, meanwhile, the organizers decided to do without a rally. Winter frosts caused this decision, but in December 2011, when the first massive action of the dissenters was held, the frosts did not frighten the fighters for fair elections. “We have taken the decision to refuse from a rally and just hold a march over a cold spell,” coordinator of the Left Front movement Sergei Udaltsov said.

The oppositionists set the expected number of participants in the protest action at up to 50,000 people in a bid to the Moscow authorities.

The first massive protest actions began in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the evening on December 4. The multi-thousand rally was held in Moscow on December 5, 2011. On December 10, 2011, the protest actions were held in 99 Russian cities. The Moscow opposition rally on the Bolotnaya Square became the most massive one since the early 1990s. A more large-scale rally on the Academician Sakharov Avenue was held in Moscow on December 24 and many more rallies in other Russian cities.

In 2012 the protesting movement continued. On February 26 the civil action “Big White Circle” was held in Moscow. According to the estimates of the press, 34,000 people were participating in this action. On March 5 and on March 10 the rallies, in which from 10,000 to 30,000 people were participating, passed in Moscow. On the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration from 50,000 to 100,000 people were taking part in the March of Millions in the Russian capital. After the march a rally on the Bolotnaya Square authorized by the Russian state authorities was to be held, but instead of the rally the protesters clashed with the police.

This time an opposition march is to end on the Lubyanka Square, where the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (the former KGB) is situated. “The end of the protest action on the Lubyanka Square is of paramount importance, because this place is historically associated with political repressions, which the state authorities have been actively carrying out against the activists of the protest movement recently,” Udaltsov stated.

Heated debates between the members of the Opposition Coordination Council were raised over the issue of slogans, with which the opposition activists will go out for the March of Freedom. In the voting the Opposition Coordination Council decided that the main slogans of the actions will be the following: “Freedom to political prisoners”, “No to dictatorship”, “Early rerun elections”...The most unpopular slogan became, “Say no to this bloody regime”.

The nationalists decided this time not to participate in the opposition action, leader of the Russkiye union Dmitry Demushkin said, explaining that he does not understand the intentions of the march. However, the activists of the nationalistic movement will participate in the protest action all the same in order “to agitate actively among Russian people, who took part in the March of Millions, to recruit their supporters and replenish their ranks.”

Demushkin noted that the nationalists initially did not support the liberal and leftist wing of the opposition, and attended the actions of the latter “to agitate among 100,000 ordinary Muscovites, who were attending their actions dissatisfied with the policy of the state authorities and unfair elections.”

Despite constant protest actions, which the oppositionists are staging, the experts noted that the opposition is still split up.

Levada Centre Director Lev Gudkov said in an interview with the French newspaper Liberation that there are two serious problems, which hamper the fighters against the ruling regime. “The opposition has never succeeded to gain the support in the regions, and this is its problem, as the opposition does not understand the interests of the regions,” the sociological scientist stated. The main obstacle is that “political ambitions of the oppositionists are absolutely contradictory.”

The sociological surveys showed that the protesters are disappointed with the fact that the opposition just lacks serious leaders, who would formulate their program and would determine the methods of influence on the incumbent authorities. Gudkov showed “the weakness and infantilism of the coordinators” of the protest actions at the example of popular blogger Alexei Navalny, as the latter gained the authority among people thanks to the criticism of the incumbent authorities, but he had not made serious proposals and had not developed his political program yet.

Meanwhile, the Russian law enforcement agencies opened one more criminal case against the oppositionists, as this time a yet-to-be unidentified circle of people are suspected of public appeals to an overthrow of the Russian constitutional system. A new criminal case is directly linked with the Bolotnaya criminal case and a criminal case over the funding of the disorders in several Russian cities, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported.

Last Wednesday, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has interrogated defendant in the Bolotnaya criminal case Rikhard Sobolev within this criminal case. Sobolev’s lawyer told the newspaper that he was asked the questions about the disorders on May 6, 2012, at the interrogation and a possible involvement of the opposition leaders in the disorders. The lawyer noted that a FSB detective from the department for the struggle against terrorism and defence of the Russian constitutional system was interrogating Sobolev.

The criminal case over the disorders on the Bolotnaya Square was opened in the end of May 2012. The detectives found that the participants in the opposition March of Millions engaged in the clashes with the police on May 6 that resulted in the beating of several law enforcers. At the present moment the trial is over against one of about 20 defendants in this criminal case Maxim Luzyanin. He pleaded guilty completely and was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

The criminal case over the financing of the disorders in Russian cities from abroad was opened in October 2012 upon the results of an investigation in the facts, which were laid down in the film Anatomy of Protest that was showed on the NTV channel. Sergei Udaltsov, activists of the Left Front Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin Lebedev are among the defendants in the criminal case. Lebedev and Razvozzhayev are being kept under arrest, Udaltsov is at large on the recognizance not to leave the city.