Moscow”s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin spoke against paralization of the centre of Moscow during the rallies, which are due to take place on February 23. Thus, the march of the supporters of the presidential candidate Vladimir Putin will be organised on Frunzenskaya Embankment and will feature 40,000 participatns, while a rally at the Luzhniki stadium will involve 100,000, though the organisers claimed initially the event would feature 200,000 and the march would go along Tverskaya Street. Representatives of other presidential candidates filed applications for rallies, which are to take place on February 23. The Mayor’s Office reports there would be about five political rallies in Moscow on February 23. Two rallies are due to take place this weekend already.
Kommersant writes that the rally location was a subject of a dispute between the organizers from Vladimir Putin’s election headquarters and the Moscow Mayor’s Office. The city authorities categorically refused to approve a march along Tverskaya Street and a rally on Manezhnaya Square, which expected to draw 200,000 participants. The Mayor’s Office suggested organizing the event either on Poklonnaya Gora or in Luzhniki, but the headquarters of Mr. Putin would not agree. The presidential candidate himself had to interfere. “These events, which are connected with traffic interruptions in the centre of the city, the main roads, avenues, metro stations, are becoming, no doubt, a big burden for the Muscovites,” Putin said a day earlier. After that, the headquarters agreed with conditions of the Mayor’s Office.
Sergei Sobyain said that the city authorities did not have any claims to the organisers of the sanctioned rallies of the opposition, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. But now there is a complicated situation, because in late February Moscow will host over a thousand events during the celebration of Mardi Gras, which had been pre-planned back in 2011. “The celebration will involve practically all parks and all squares. We are making decisions of whether to permit or not depending on the events of Mardi Gras.”
Moscow’s streets will become arenas of political life already during the upcoming weekend, Komsomolskaya Pravda writes. The League of Voters invites its allies to have another car rally along the Garden Ring, Mokhovaya and Okhotny Ryad, along the Novaya and Staraya squares, the Moscow River’s embankments by circling the Kremlin with several “white rings” on Sunday February 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. experts say that in order to loop the rings, the event should involve over 5,000 vehicles. The organisers’ opponents from the Net of Putin’s Allies plans to attract at least 1,500 drivers to participate in their car rally on Saturday afternoon, February 18. The event should be no longer than an hour, from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Novye Izvestia writes about details of the upcoming events in Russia’s other cities. The newspaper says that Barnaul’s authorities have banned a civil rally For Honest Elections and a ‘rally of toys.’
On February 18, organisers of the action, wanted to present in the snow in the Sovetov Square 100 toys from Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, 100 Lego human figures, 20 tiny soldiers, 15 fur toys and 10 toy vehicles. They were planned to carry notes containing violations of the election legislation. But the city authorities have not approved the ‘toy rally’, as “a public event may be organised by citizens of the Russian Federation, while inhuman objects should be considered only as other means of visual agitation used by participants.”
The first toy rally was organised a year earlier in the city of Apatity, and later prosecutors claimed that since the event is public, it should be pre-approved by the authorities. With the clarification in mind, the rally’s organisers decided to abide by the law, and filed an application for a toy rally for February 18, but received a refusal.
Leader of the Altai Territory’s branch of the Golos Association Sergei Andreyev also said that not only the ‘toy rally’ was refused, but also a rally For Honest Elections on February 26, in which about 500 participants were expected to take part in.
St. Petersburg will host rallies, too, but of Vladimir Putin's allies. On February 18, they will gather at the Oktyabrsky concert hall and plan to attract 10,000 participants. The opposition is preparing a march and a rally on February 25, hoping to attract twice more participants. The opposition has not received an approval as yet. It plans to involve over 20,000 participants.