Russia's amateur fishermen protest new rules: report
A wave of protests attended by thousands of amateur fishermen demonstrating against a new law regulating fishing swept Russia's large cities at the weekend, a report said Monday.
Thousands of people protested in 15 cities, including 3,000 in Kazan, on the Volga river, where no large-scale protests have been observed in the past two decades, the Kommersant newspaper said.
"We defended the Volga in 1943 (in World War II), we can do it today!" read posters held up by the protesters, who oppose a new fee for fishing in designated areas on the country's lakes and rivers.
The law introduced last December introduces a charge for fishing in areas that are rented and are designated fishing spots, which runs counter to the idea of most Russians that they can fish for free all over the country.
While the idea of the law was to create organised sites where one can rent a boat and equipment, Russia's amateur fisherman fear they will be forced to pay to fish anywhere.
About 1,000 people gathered in central Moscow and booed the head of the Federal Fishery Agency Andrei Krainy, who made a surprise appearance at the rally.
The protesting fishermen, many of whom responded to a call by a popular fishing newspaper, Rybak Rybaka, deny any political affiliation despite some parties attempting to use them as a political resource, the paper said.
Kommersant said the fishing rallies showed that Russians were ready to take to the streets in protest over specific political issues rather than abstract political change.
"It's worth noting that lately Russians prefer to take to streets not in support of abstract political ideas" but when a specific right is infringed upon, Kommersant said.
Russia's strongest protests of the past decade were spurred by a reform to monetise social benefits in the mid-2000s, which led to thousands of people blocking streets across Russia.
Another wave of protests shook Russia's Far East and Kaliningrad regions when the government introduced a substantial import tariff on used cars brought in from Europe and Japan.
© 2011 AFP