Sobyanin: We Shall Allow Only Serious Political Forces to Hold Demonstrations

posted 9 Jun 2011, 10:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 9 Jun 2011, 13:56 ]
Source: (info), 06/06/11

Permission to hold demonstrations in Moscow streets and squares will be granted by Moscow’s city authorities only to political forces capable of “bringing tens and hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets” rather than just “a few dozen troublemakers.” This announcement by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, reported by the daily Kommersant, was the first indication of his attitude to mass street demonstrations since taking office. He made the announcement shortly before the next Day of Anger is due to be held, for which a venue has not yet been determined.

“The communists, for example, attract many people to their rallies, and we make sure that for these events the streets and squares are closed to traffic. However, when it is only a few dozen troublemakers who gather merely in order to misbehave, it does not make sense to close off a boulevard just for their sake,” Sobyanin said. “Many event organizers follow the logic: ‘We only want to hold events where it’s not permitted, and the Constitution does not give you the right to ban them’,” Sobyanin noted.

Kommersant points out that Sobyanin’s view partly echoes the position of Vladimir Putin, who – commenting on the activities of the so-called ‘dissenters’ in December 2010 – said that they “are not so much interested in holding a demonstration as in generating conflict with the authorities.” Commenting on Sobyanin’s statement, human rights activists called on him not to invent new definitions but to observe law. “The Mayor of Moscow ought to be aware that the Constitution does not use terms such as ‘misbehaving’ or ‘troublemakers’”, said Ludmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

Sobyanin made his statement shortly before the next Day of Anger demonstration, scheduled to be held in Moscow on 12 June. On seven occasions in 2010 the Moscow city authorities banned the organizer, the Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov, from holding a rally outside City Hall. However, in 2011 the two sides reached an agreement and on two occasions the organizers were able to hold the demonstration in Teatralnaya Square. Last Friday City Hall announced it was prepared to grant permission for the next Day of Anger to be held at Bolotnaya Square (if it is a rally) or on Taras Shevchenko Embankment (if it is a march). However, it is not yet clear where the demonstration will take place, reports.
Rights in Russia,
9 Jun 2011, 10:38