Statement by human rights defenders organizing the rally on 31 March 2011

posted 30 Mar 2011, 23:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Mar 2011, 23:08 ]
Source: (info), 17/03/11

· Freedom of assembly · Moscow City and Moscow region · Protests

In light of the public polemic around the rally planned for 31 March 2001, the human rights defenders organizing the event have felt it necessary to issue a statement clarifying the position of what has become known as ‘Alekseeva’s group’.

‘Alekseeva’s group’ has notified the Mayor's office of their plan for a march from Triumphal Square along the eastern side of Tverskaya Street, followed by a rally in Pushkin Square. The event has the support of the Federal Political Council bureau of the Solidarity United Democratic Movement.

Human rights defenders organizing the event on 31 March 2011 have issued the following statement signed by Ludmila Alekseeva, Valery Borshchev, Sergei Kanaev, Sergei Kovalev and Lev Ponomarev:

“The authorities have been obliged to make concessions in response to pressure from the Strategy-31 Movement. They have clearly failed to meet their obligations in a conscientious manner. We might mention the dividing barriers, placed along and across Triumphal Square under the pretext of some construction work or other that has been waiting to begin for over six months now; or the artificial measures designed to hinder rally participants from entering and leaving the designated enclosure. But the most striking proof of the authorities’ cynical and arbitrary attitude towards citizens is the shamelessly false evidence given in court by police officers about administrative transgressions that allegedly took place. Everyone, from eyewitnesses and magistrates to the perjurers' colleagues, can plainly see that this testimony is false. And most importantly, this false testimony was given on the orders of superiors and accompanied by state officials' solemn but empty chatter about freedom, justice and democracy.

That is why, in the run-up to 31 March, an attempt was made to overcome the disagreements among the initiators of Strategy-31, i.e. between its most intransigent faction (we may call it ‘Limonov's group’) and the more moderate and restrained ‘Alekseeva's group’ which includes the signatories of this statement. Quite predictably, the attempt to reach agreement and formulate joint demands and a joint strategy has not been crowned with success. The reason for this is insurmountable mutual distrust.

Our opponents tend to resort to scandalous behaviour, which results in confrontation while distracting attention from our country's constitutional problems. The Constitution simply gets lost under the dust of the ‘battle against barriers’.

The goal we pursue is difficult and currently perhaps even unattainable: we demand that the government observe citizens' constitutional rights and freedoms.

We intend to press for direct and principled discussion of issues ranging from elections, the justice system, independent media and the federalism. Of course, our government lacks legitimacy but it is the only one we have. After all, the Brezhev regime was no better. Nevertheless, extremely decent people (who were certainly far from being cowardly), such as Andrei Sakharov, were willing to engage the regime in direct dialogue, and sought to do so.

For the reasons outlined above we have decided not to notify the authorities of a rally in Triumphal Square. Instead, we shall insist on approval for a march along the side of the road from Triumphal Square to Pushkin Square, where we intend to hold a rally not only in defence of Article 31 of the Constitution, but also for the right of citizens to freely express their will in an open and equal electoral contest.

This issue provides a highly topical – although, of course, not the sole – focus for civic actions in this and the coming year.

Ludmila Alekseeva

Valery Borshchev

Sergei Kanaev

Sergei Kovalev

Lev Ponomarev
Rights in Russia,
30 Mar 2011, 23:06