Bolotnaya Square two years on: protestors again arrested

posted 11 May 2014, 13:23 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 May 2014, 13:42 ]
7 May 2014

Vera Vasilieva

On 6 May 2014, two years after the breaking up of the march and rally of the opposition in the centre of Moscow and the subsequent prosecutions of participants, police have again detained protestors on Bolotnaya Square.

The demonstration took the place of a people’s gathering. The organizers had not succeeded in obtaining the permission of the city authorities for the event. For civil society activists it had been important to hold the demonstration on Bolotnaya Square, and not at some other location, but officials from Moscow’s Central District insisted that the event be held on Sakharov Prospect.

Already long before 7pm, the time designated for the start of the demonstration, Bolotnaya Square was swarming with
riot police and officers in civilian clothes, police cars, buses, paddy wagons and heavy construction and cleaning equipment.

At about 6:30pm protestors hung over Luzhkov Bridge banners with the words: ‘Russia is not a prison’ and ‘Freedom to Political Prisoners’. They were immediately detained. According to the website OVD-Info, 12 people were detained by police. Among them were two journalists: Andrei Zubtsets and Natalya Gorilskaya.

By 7pm people began to gather with white ribbons, flowers, and badges with the words ‘Freedom of the Heroes of 6 May’. In addition, many had blue and yellow ribbons, and also badges picturing blue and yellow blue tits for peace in

Two people had come with guitars. Soon a crowd gathered around them, joining in the singing in a good-humoured manner. The general mood was good-natured

People were not only talking about the Bolotnaya prisoners. For example, one of the participants of the demonstration told’s correspondent that they pray for political prisoner Aleksei Pichugin, the last prisoner in the Yukos case.

The police only intervened when a banner was raised. They then quite roughly seized demonstrator James Ellis, who
was holding a placard with the words ‘Freedom of the Prisoners of Fascist Concentration Camps’, and literally dragged him to the paddy wagon. They also detained Maria Goncharova who held up a placard with the words ‘Police, act like people’.

The detainees were taken to the Yakimanka and Khamovniki police stations where administrative charges were drawn up against them under Article 19.3 (‘Failing to obey a lawful instruction pf a police officer’) and Article 20.2 (‘Organization of the simultaneous arrival of a large number of people to public places resulting in a breach of public order’).

That evening Zamoskvoretsky district court in Moscow sentenced the two participants who had held up the banner – Maksim Chekanov and Ildar Dadin – to 5 and 15 days in prison respectively.

James Ellis was kept at Khamovniki police station overnight.

In total, several hundred people took part in the demonstration on Bolotnaya Square.