A Test Walk rally - an absolutely peaceful protest action that does not require permission from the authorities, the idea of which belongs to writer Boris Akunin, was held in Moscow over the past weekend. Renowned Russian writers accompanied by thousands of Muscovites strolled down the Boulevard Ring road from the Monument to Pushkin to the Monument to Griboyedov. Nobody was detained by police.
The Moscow intellectuals that came out to the Boulevard Ring for a Test Walk with white ribbons gathered, according to the estimates of the participants, from 10,000 to 15,000 people, the Vedomosti daily writes. The action ended on Chistoprudny Boulevard in an impromptu camp of civil activists. According to the Moscow main police department, 2,000 people took part in the action.
The action was conceived by writer Boris Akunin as a response to the mass detentions of activists with white ribbons on May 6-9, when more than 1,000 people were taken to police stations. “Can Muscovites still walk freely in their own city of do they need to get a special pass?” Akunin specified the purpose of the walk in his blog. Writers Dmitry Bykov and Lyudmila Ulitskaya, journalist Sergei Parkhomenko, poets Sergei Gandlevsky and Lev Rubinshtein, satirists Viktor Shenderovich and Igor Irtenyev, cartoonist Andrei Bilzho, musicians Andrei Makarevich and Alexei Kortnev also joined the walk on the city boulevards. The formal notification of the action was not submitted to the authorities. The action took place with the minimal participation of the police, riot police was not involved, the publication emphasises.
The authorities are hoping that the protest activity will die down, but their expectations are futile, believes sociologist, United Russia party member Olga Kryshtanovskaya, who is quoted by Vedomosti. So far the authorities’ response to the action is limited to the ineffective propaganda “bites.” “The situation is pre-revolutionary,” the expert warns.
Whether after the stories of beatings and tear gas spraying into the eyes of the prostrate protesters on May 6 or simply out of respect for the art figures, this time the Moscow authorities did not venture to disperse the people who took to the streets, Novye Izvestia emphasises. Contrary to expectations, there were no riot police, agent provocateurs and people throwing chunks of asphalt and other items. People were walking really quietly.
Sunday’s opposition event, named Test Walk was not suppressed by the authorities, despite the fact that the walking people were blocking motor traffic, Kommersant writes. The organisers believe that the authorities simply could not find a reason to find fault with the walking people, because nothing is said about this form of protest in the law on rallies. According to lawyers interviewed by the newspaper, the Sunday event can still be classified as “a procession.” “The fact that the authorities allowed the ‘walk’ - it’s just a political decision,” head of the Agora human rights association Pavel Chikov is certain. “It means that this form of protest is currently convenient for them.”