YEKATERINBURG, May 16. /TASS/. As many as 96 people have been detained since the beginning of authorized protests in downtown Yekaterinburg, where St. Catherine’s Cathedral is planned to be rebuilt, the regional branch of the Russian Interior Ministry said on Thursday. A source in the city’s Verkh-Isetsky District Court told TASS that 21 of them had been arrested.
According to police, 26 protesters were detained on May 14 and another 70 on May 15. Spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s Sverdlovsk Region Branch Valery Gorelykh said that three teenagers had been among those detained on May 15.
The court source told TASS that as of 15:00 local time (10:00 GMT), 21 people had been arrested for the period of two to ten days for violating rules for public meetings, protests and rallies.
Since May 13, unauthorized rallies have been going on in Yekaterinburg against plans to rebuild the cathedral in a park instead of its original site. Yekaterinburg’s authorities made the decision in February 2019, taking public opinion into consideration and in accordance with all necessary procedures, but still provoked outrage from some of the city’s residents.
On May 14, 150 police officers were deployed to maintain law and order during protests, while 304 police officers, as well as National Guard members, maintained law and order on May 15.
"Since some social media users continue calling for protests and other unlawful activities, the Sverdlovsk Region Branch of the Russian Interior Ministry urges citizens to avoid responding to provocations and refrain from participating in unauthorized activities," Gorelykh emphasized.
Saint Catherine’s Cathedral is expected to be built by 2023, when Yekaterinburg will celebrate its 300th anniversary.