It is expected that up to 90,000 people will take to the streets in the Russian capital city to take part in public events on the May Day holidays. The key events will be staged in downtown Moscow on May 1. May 4 will see an Easter procession, also in the center of the city, and on May 5 and 6, the opposition plans to hold marches and a rally in Moscow’s notorious Bolotnaya Square. A year ago, a similar rally triggered public riots, which in the long run culminated in the high-profile Bolotnoye case. This time, the opposition pledges there will be no such development.
According to the regional security department of the Moscow mayor’s office, the city authorities have permitted 16 mass actions in the capital city, writes the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. It is expected that up to 90,000 people will take part in these actions. Among them there will be seven marches, of which two will be organized by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). The ruling United Russia party has opted not to organize an action of its own. It will join trade union actions instead. Meanwhile, it looks like the trade union action, to be held along Moscow’s central Tverskaya Street, is going to be the biggest event of the day. In any case, the organizers pledge to attract 60,000 people, or twice as many as targeted by the organizers of the rest 15 actions sanctioned by the mayor’s office.
On May 5, the opposition plans to hold a march and a rally in Bolotnaya Square with a planned number of participants reaching 30,000, the Kommersant newspaper writes. The action is timed to mark last year’s notorious action held in the same square on May 6, when a 100,000-strong March of Millions grew into riots. More than 400 people were detained afterwards. The May 5 action will be organized by opposition forces that have not been let in the opposition coordinating council and formed an alternative structure - the opposition expert council - instead. The coordinating council has preferred to confine itself to a rally on May 6 - the mayor’s office has not permitted one more opposition march. “Any kind of unrest is highly improbable, both actions are rather vestiges of the last year’s protest movement,” Arkady Babchenko of the opposition expert council told the newspaper. “People will gently walk along the march’s route, have a quiet rally and go home.”
“Our goal is to draw as many people as possible to our actions, to have as many people as possible take to the streets,” Alexander Ryklin of the Solidarity political council, a rally organizer, told the Novye Izvestia newspaper. “The authorities cannot stay aloof. Everything should be vehement to a certain extent but nevertheless within the limits of the law - in this case, it can have a real impact and change the fate of the Bolotnaya prisoners. People will learn about what really happened there and, believe me, the case will draw extensive media interest.”
Over the past few days, the two opposition structures have been exchanging tart words and direct accusations, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The opposition coordinating council labeled the expert council’s actions as a provocation, the latter, in response, invited people to take part in their action claiming that the action of their rivals was doomed to failure as redundant. Anyway, it is next to obvious that both actions are going to fail, the newspaper writes. It is highly improbable that the organizers will be able to draw 10,000 on May 5 and 30,000 on May 6, as they plan.