Rally in support of voting rights and the release of political prisoners. Report and photos by HRO.org

posted 28 Sept 2015, 02:36 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Sept 2015, 03:12 ]
21 September 2015

Vera Vasilieva 

Source: HRO.org
On 20th September 2015 a rally took place in Moscow’s Maryino district in support of voting rights, freedom of speech and for the release of political prisoners. 

The demonstrators also called for an end to military action in east Ukraine and for measures to combat corruption.

Originally the organisers of the protest had planned to hold a march in the city centre – along Boulevard Ring – and end the demonstration with a rally on Andrei Sakharov Prospect. But the city authorities did not agree to this plan on the grounds that the Moscow marathon would pass through the same locations.

Volunteers standing at the entrance to Bratislavskaya metro station and on Pererva Street told those arriving how to get to the rally.

One of the slogans featured was “No to the war in Ukraine! Yes to education, health care, science, culture, and song.”

Those who came were offered badges in support of people convicted in the 'Bolotnaya Square case' and also in support of Aleksei Pichugin, a political prisoner who is a former employee of the Yukos Oil Company.

The master of ceremonies at the rally was the actress Oksana Mysin. Demonstrators listened to a recorded message by Oleg Navalny, brother of the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Aleksei Navalny. He finished by addressing them with words of solidarity and support.

Anna Gaskarova, wife Aleksei Gaskarov who has been imprisoned as a result of prosecution in the “Bolotnaya Square” case, read out extracts of the “last words” in court by her husband, as well as the Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov and some other prisoners.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) has recognised Oleg Navalny, Aleksei Gaskarov, and Oleg Sentsov as political prisoners.

Activists in the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners collected donations to help the families of political prisoners.

Speaking of the pressure on independent mass media, speakers at the rally cited the cases of the severe beatings of the journalist Oleg Kashin and Lev Shlosberg, editor of a newspaper and member of Pskov region assembly, who investigated the deaths of soldiers based in Pskov in Ukraine and published articles about his research in the local press.

Participants in the rally demanded that law enforcement agencies carry out an objective investigation into these crimes, and likewise into the murder of Boris Nemtsov, regardless of whether high-ranking officials were involved or not.

A minute of silence was held in memory of Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered on 28th February 2015 on Moskvoretsky Bridge.

“Don’t be afraid, in spite of what has happened,” Evgenia Albats, editor of The New Times, urged, “Crawling on one’s stomach is shameful.”

Many of the speeches were devoted to protecting citizens’ voting rights.

The actress Elena Koreneva read out a poem by Marina Tsvetaeva:

Distances: miles, versts…
They’ve set us apart, and dispersed,
Rendered us silent, terse, 
At two different ends of the earth.
Distances: versts beyond compass…
They unglued us, unwelded us,
Pulled us apart, crucified us
Not knowing this alloy is tough
As a sinew, inspired …
They did not make us quarrel, they cast us aside.*

The famous writer and journalist Dmitry Bykov was also among the speakers, as well as 76-year old civil activist Vladimir Ionov (who is being prosecuted for “repeated violations of the regulations concerning large public events”), Aleksei Navalny and others.

According “White Counter,” an independent organisation that estimates the number of people taking part in public events, around seven thousand people took part in the demonstration. However, Moscow police claimed that approximately four thousand people attended the rally. 

Photos of the rally by Vera Vasilieva can be viewed HERE

Translated by Kate Goodby

Рас-стояние: версты, мили... 
Нас рас-ставили, рас-садили, 
Чтобы тихо себя вели, 
По двум разным концам земли. 
Рас-стояние: версты, дали... 
Нас расклеили, распаяли, 
В две руки развели, распяв, 
И не знали, что это сплав 
Вдохновений и сухожилий... 
Не рассОрили – рассорИли.