At the beginning of this week the Moscow counterparts to the Speaker’s Corner in the London Hyde Park began to receive the bids for actions. The Moscow authorities hope that the project, which allows holding rallies of up to 2,000 people without any authorization from the state authorities, shapes a new city culture of the protest actions, the Kommersant daily reported. The opposition believes that the Moscow counterparts of the Speaker’s Corner will turn in “the reservations for protest,” and is concerned that major public actions will not be permitted in the city after they are launched in the Russian capital.
The official websites of the Gorky Park and the Sokolniki Park began to receive the bids for public events, which do not need any authorization from the state authorities. The legislative acts, which regulate the operation of the Moscow counterparts of the London Speaker’s Corner, entered into force in January 2013, but their development is nearing completion only now. Amid the first massive protests, which were held under the slogan “For Fair Elections”, the Moscow Mayor’s Office began to voice the idea to create “specially assigned venues” in the city, where people can hold relatively major public actions without any permit from the state authorities.
The Moscow counterparts of the London Speaker’s Corner were decided to place at the Sokolniki Park and the Gorky Park. The construction works are already about to complete, and already on May 1 the parks are ready to host first demonstrations. Public actions are permitted to hold from 07:00 to 22:00 Moscow time.
During all this period of time, when the project was being developed, the Moscow authorities recalled that they orient at the experience of other countries. Actually, the freedom of speech and the right for peaceful assemblies are fixed in the laws of many countries. The Moscow authorities contemplated the counterparts of the London Speaker’s Corner to create a new culture of city protests in the city. In reply to the Kommersant question, whom they are ready to receive at the Moscow counterparts of the London Speaker’s Corner, the directorate of the Gorky Park said, “In summer from 20,000 to 100,000 people visit the park daily. The park is the public space open absolutely for all people.”
Deputy head of the Moscow regional security department Vasily Oleinik also said that public actions will have no restrictions on their agenda. The Moscow officials are ready to receive the LGBT activists and the nationalists in the park, but only if the latter do not violate Moscow and federal laws. Meanwhile, the Moscow Mayor’s Office does not conceal that the functioning of two permanent venues, which can admit 2,000 demonstrators, in the city, will facilitate the work of the city officials, who should conduct long negotiations with the opposition over a venue of a next rally in defence of the political prisoners.
The oppositionists do not share the optimistic moods of the Moscow Mayor’s Office, the newspaper noted. Back in the very start of the project many of them said that this way the state authorities intend to bring the street protests in the reservation. The concerns of members of the protest movement are growing, particularly over the fact that the state authorities have been coordinating the opposition actions in the centre of the city very reluctantly recently. Organizer of several major actions of the opposition Sergei Davidis noted that the state authorities only pretend that they intend to meet the interests of the protesting movement, but in fact actions of the pro-Kremlin movements will prevail in the Moscow counterparts of the Speaker’s Corner.