Moscow's new mayor allows larger opposition rally: organiser

26th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Moscow's new mayor Sergei Sobyanin has made an unprecedented concession to Russia's liberal opposition by allowing several hundred people to rally on October 31, an organiser told AFP Tuesday.

Sobyanin, who was appointed mayor last Thursday, has "authorised a gathering of 800 people" on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad square in central Moscow, said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran Soviet dissident and one of the organisers.

Since November 2009, an opposition movement called Strategy 31 has held rallies on the 31st day of the month, in reference to Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which permits peaceful demonstrations.

Riot police roughly broke up previous rallies and detained protestors under the previous mayor, Yury Luzhkov, who was dramatically fired by President Dmitry Medvedev in September.

"Even though we asked permission for a rally of 1,500 people, this is a victory of the opposition, which was beaten with truncheons during dispersals of previous rallies," said Alexeyeva.

Another organiser, radical leftist politician Eduard Limonov, continued to demand permission for 1,500 people to attend, Alexeyeva said, adding that the authorities hinted they might allow the full number.

"A city hall representative indicated to us that if the protestors behave calmly, the police will ensure the security of everyone," she said.

The Moscow authorities earlier said they would sanction a rally of 200 people on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad in the first such concession to the opposition.

The city authorities fenced off most of the square in the summer under the pretext of construction works.

© 2010 AFP

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