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On Monday, the opposition in Moscow marked the first anniversary of dramatic events on the Bolotnaya Square, when the authorized March of Millions grew into the clashes with police. Now the figurants in the so-called Bolotnaya case are about 30 people, whom the opposition calls as political prisoners. The rally in support of “the Bolotnaya prisoners” became the most massive action of the dissenters this year, meanwhile, political activists turned out to be in minority this time, as thousands of representatives of the middle class, who came for the rally after their workday, came out on the square. According to different estimates, from 8,000 to 30,000 people were participating in the rally.
The rally, which was dedicated to the first anniversary of the events on May 6, 2012, on the Bolotnaya Square, which grew into the clashes with police, should have become a key public opposition action in 2013, a high number of participants in the rally should have showed that the protesting activities were not halted after the arrests and the accusations brought against the participants in the last year’s rally, the Vedomosti daily noted. The solidarity with the arrestees in the Bolotnaya case was chosen as the top priority of the rally. The appeals to come on the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow on May 6, 2013, were made by the opposition leaders and representatives of creative intelligentsia, over 6,000 people stated in the social networks that they are ready to come on the square. The Moscow Mayor’s Office permitted 30,000 people to participate in the rally after long negotiations.
The Moscow Mayor’s Office authorized a rally from 19:00 until 21:30 Moscow time, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. As many as 5,000 policemen, servicemen of the interior troops and voluntary patrolmen were involved to protect the order at the protest action. The mounting of the stage has begun since Monday morning, but already in the afternoon a rally happened to be under threat of not holding, as a worker died in the process to install the stage. The mounting of the stage was suspended. It took some time for the organizers to decide whether to cancel a rally or not. When it was decided to hold it, the search for an alternative stage and the sound amplifying equipment took some time. Finally a truck was brought to the Bolotnaya Square, and the rally began with the minute of silence. People began to go away already by 8 hours in the evening, as an alternative sound amplifier was obviously not enough for the participants in the rally to hear the speeches of the opposition leaders on the Bolotnaya Square. Talking to each other, the participants in the rally were leaving the square 90 minutes before the end of the event. The police removed the barriers so that a larger number of people could come closer to the stage, but this measure did not improve the situation.
At first the number of participants in the rally was estimated at 5,000-8,000 people, but soon their number reached 10,000-12,000, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported. So, only each fifth participant came on the Bolotnaya Square a year later. Boris Nemtsov opened the rally and promised that the oppositionists cannot be intimidated. Other speakers, who are no less well-known personalities, took the floor, including Mikhail Kasyanov, Gennady Gudkov.
The speech of famous oppositionist Alexei Navalny was the brightest one, the Kommersant daily believes. “I have something to lose as all of you, I am fighting for a new future for my family,” Alexei Navalny stated. “I do not have another country, another family, another people, but you. I will never surrender and will not go away,” he noted. He recalled he did not have any problems with the law a year ago. “Now four or six criminal cases are opened against me,” the oppositionist cried out. “But I do not care a bit, let there will be even 124 criminal cases, I will be saying what I am thinking about,” Navalny said.
In his speech Alexei Navalny even used the patriotic rhetoric, which reminds of Vladimir Putin’s election campaign speeches, the newspaper noted. The oppositionist congratulated the participants in the rally on a coming Victory Day and has made a comparison with the Great Patriotic War, “Our ancestors threw away the enemies. And we should oust those, who are seeking to enslave us by means of forged ballot papers, through corrupt journalists and thieves in the police uniform.”
The newspaper noted that the majority of the participants in the rally were not political activists, as representatives of the middle class came on the Bolotnaya Square. Judging by the clothes, most of them came for the protest action right after their workday.
Contrary to the last year’s action this year the action passed almost without any incidents. Only Orthodox activist Dmitry Tsorionov together with the group of supporters folded out the flags with the crossed LGBT symbols and the saying “Moscow is not Sodom,” after that he began to scatter out the leaflets. The police have taken the activist from the rally.