Russian opposition to press ahead with '31' protest

26th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian opposition activists vowed on Thursday to press ahead with a demonstration in Moscow on August 31 urging freedom of assembly, despite pressure from authorities to cancel the event.

"Of course we are going to protest on August 31," veteran human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva said at a news conference.

The protest due at Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square is one of a series of "Strategy 31" protests organised for the 31st day of the month in reference to Article 31 in the Russian constitution which permits peaceful demonstrations.

Access to the square was closed on Wednesday after the local government said it wanted to build a car park, a decision the opposition viewed as political pressure.

"I have the feeling that Russian society is starting to wake up" just like in the 1990s, Alexeyeva said.

Organisers said the "31" demonstrations had already taken place in 40 Russian cities, despite being banned by authorities and protestors being detained.

"If we stop, others will take our place, because the Pandora's Box is already open," said Konstantin Kosiakin, leader of the far-left Levy Front movement.

On Wednesday gay rights campaigners said they would join the protest on August 31.

© 2010 AFP

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