Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
The Other Russia had intended to stage the rally on January 31st along one of the main avenues of St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect. The city’s Law and Order Committee rejected the organization’s permit to hold a rally, citing concerns about the potential protest’s effects on local traffic. Immediately after the Committee announced its rejection, the opposition group stated that it would seek a legal appeal to the decision.
The planned rally is part of the larger Strategy 31 movement in Russia, a long term effort to bring the issue of continued restrictions on the freedom of assembly to the attention of the Russian public. The campaign’s name is based on Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which is supposed to guarantee each Russian citizens’ fundamental right to assemble.
The Other Russia leaders have indicated that regardless of the city’s final determination about their permit to hold the rally, their members will follow through will the protest as planned.
The city of St. Peterburg’s rejection of the rally permit continues a trend in major Russian cities where local authorities have cited various reasons to forbid rallies organized by opposition groups. When those rallies have been granted permission to occur they have often faced the police detention of those involved. Earlier this month thirty-four protesters were arrested by Moscow police during an event remembering the deaths of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasia Baburova.
For more information, please see:
RADIO FREE EUROPE – Russian Opposition To Fight Rally Ban In Court – 27 January 2010
AFP – Rights protesters arrested in Moscow – 20 January 2010
AP – Moscow rally in memory of slain lawyer, journalist – 19 January 2010