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MOSCOW, May 6 (Itar-Tass) - An opposition rally ended in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on Monday, May 6.
The rally, which was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of public protests in Moscow last year, had brought together some 8,000 people and passed peaceably.
Police said this number also included some 300 members of mass media who covered the rally. However the organisers claimed that 30,000 had attended the event.
The preparation of the rally was darkened by the death of a worker who was building the podium, which was never finished because of that and all speakers had to address the audience standing on a flatbed truck. They urged those present not to unroll their political slogans.
Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov opened the rally by announcing a minute of silence in memory of the worker who had died when preparing the rally. He said the opposition would press for the liberation of those arrested after last year’s protests.
“Today we must remember each and everyone and we must make sure that all of them are set free,” Nemtsov said.
At the same time, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov expressed the opinion that “the country has split into those who want stability and those who want the authorities to respect their opinion.”
Actor Alexander Filippenko recited a poem describing the political situation in the country, and the relatives of those apprehended after last year’s protests claimed their detention was unlawful. Actress Liya Akhedzhakova read a letter written by one of them.
MPs Ilya Ponomarev and Dmitry Gudkov, former MP Gennady Gudkov, Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin, writers Dmitry Bykov, Boris Akunin and Viktor Shenderovich, blogger Alexei Navalny, and other opposition activists spoke at the rally.
The participants chanted: “Russia will be free,” “Freedom to political prisoners,” and “Freedom to May 6 prisoners.”
In the end, Nemstov read out a list of demands, which included “release of all political prisoners, termination of criminal cases opened by order, amendment of the Constitution to ban a candidate from being elected president more than two times, holding of new parliamentary and presidential elections, and access to television for the opposition.”
About 5,000 policemen were posted in the area to ensure law and order during the rally. On the whole, the situation was calm with the exception of two minor incidents. In one instance, a conflict broke out between several persons over the content of a poster. In the other instance, a smoke grenade was ignited. No one was hurt or injured in either case. Police detained five people wearing masks and one teenager for having igniting a flare.
Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had been informed about the rally but said there was no subject for comment.