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Opposition rallies on Khodorkovsky's birthdate

June 27, 2013, 12:24 UTC+3

The first was held near the Timiryazev monument in Tverskoi Bulvar, the second in Stary Arbat Street

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The Opposition staged two actions in support of former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky on the occasion of his 50th birthtate. The first was held near the Timiryazev monument in Tverskoi Bulvar /Parkway/, the second in Stary Arbat Street, where the so-called festive stroll took place.

The meeting in support of a well-known Russian inmate gathered 150 people, the RBK Daily writes. Due to repairs in Novopushkinsky Square, the initial venue of the event, it was moved to the beginning of Tverskoi Bulvar: the Timiryazev monument which is symbolically devoted to "a fighter and thinker."

Yabloko Party leader Sergei Mitrokhin, who recently marked his 50th birthday, too, who was one of the first to take the floor. He called this date "a period of understanding and evaluation," and wished the bysiness tycoon soonest release.

Co-chairman of the RPR-PARNAS Party Vladimir Ryzhkov reminded that Khodorkovsky had owned the largest company in the country whose rates exceeded Gazprom's. Over a decade spent in prison, the former entrepreneur showed "an example of striking purity, firmness and clarity of mind."

Other speakers took the floor as participants were chanting slogans "freedom to political prisoners!", "freedom to Russia", and "Khodorkovsky, come home!», including representatives of Civil Federation, and the For Human Rights and Solidarity movements. Poetesses Veronika Dolina and Marina Azhardo read their verses. At the end of the rally, the participants adopted a brief resolution. "We call for immediate release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev and demand their complete rehabilitation," the RBK Daily said citing from the resolution.

The Kommersant, referring to the rally organizers, said some 300 people had taken part in the event.

After the rally, several dozen people marched in a column toward Stary Arbat, to the Bulat Okudzhava monument, for the so-called festive stroll, the newspaper reports. As they were walking, they chanted "congratulations!" and released balloons with images of Mikhail Khodorkovsky into the air. The action was to have culminated in carrying a huge banner with a portrait of the former YUKOS CEO along Stary Arbat Street. But the Opposition activists were not allowed to lower the banner from the rooftop of the Vakhtangov Theater.

Immediately after 21:00, police began to detain rally participants. Some two dozen people were brought to police stations.


Authorities in southern Russia ban hijabs in schools, colleges

The Komsomolskaya Pravda carries an article, which addresses, according to the newspaper, "radical Islam's offensive against certain Russian provinces."

No Russian governor has ever made such sharp remarks on the issue as head of the Astrakhan region Alexander Zhilkin, the newspaper writes. The question is about wearing hijabs and other religious accessories in schools and colleges. They were banned the other day.

"Bring this information to representatives of all ethnic groups, especially those who have problems with it," Zhilkin said at a session of the ethno-confessional council. They dumb down boys and girls. Then they are dragged into the ranks of criminal organizations, and then they are returned to their parents as corpses.

The regional Muslims' website immediately released this comment: "if someone used to have doubts that the Astrakhan region governor had taken a more balanced position on freedom of religion unlike the general Islamo-phobic vector, these doubts are now dispelled."

So what is happening in Astrakhan? What is happening in southern Russia? the newspaper asks.

The girls who suddenly begin to wear hijabs are called "wrapped" here. Their ethnic composition varies: there are Tatars, Kazakhs, Russians, Uzbeks, and Avars and their number grows each year. According to official statistics, 60 of them are wives of militants. Some are found alive; other young Muslim women join gangs and die for "the right cause."

The Komsomolskaya Pravda tells several stories of such girls. One is about Aina Sidgaliyeva, 25, who has already served three of 13 years for illegal carrying of weapons, attempted murder of police officer and participation in illegal paramilitary formation.

Six years ago, Aina was a quite modern girl. She visited discotheques, wore mini-skirts and flirted with boys, with her parents mildly disapproving. But they got a real fright when their daughter once returned home wearing a hijab. Since that day, her mother and father have been kafirs - unbelievers - to her.

"I had not read the Quran till I was 19, and only visited the mosque on holidays; I did not pray," Aina said. One day, a young woman walked up to me in a mosque and we talked. She did not urge me to do anything. She just recommended to see a website. Among its visitors were many interesting believers, including students from our institute. They explained what it meant to serve the Allah. One of those young men asked me to marry. I agreed despite my parents' objections."

A month later, Aina found herself in Chechnya. Together with her husband, she joined the gang led by Isahyev. In two months, she and her husband returned to Astrakhan, to recruit new brothers and sisters. All this time, law-enforcement bodies had been monitoring their movements. When they were being arrested, Aina threw a homemade grenade at a police officer.

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