Monday, March 05, 2007


Russian police attacked an unauthorized opposition rally in St. Petersburg, rounding up and beating dozens of activists and detaining several organizers Saturday.

The activists held banners "Russia Without Putin," "We Are for Justice" and "Take Elections Back."

Protest leaders said they were staging a “march of the discontented” to resist what they called the Kremlin’s tightening grip on power and to demand a fair presidential election next year.They called for the ousting of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko, a close ally of the president, accusing her of corruption and incompetence.

The coalition called "The Other Russia" a main organizer of the protest is composed of groups that would normally be at political odds--democrats, nationalists, socialists. At a recent conference of the group in attendence according to the Moscow Times were "...ultranationalist Eduard Limonov, head of the National Bolshevik Party; Viktor Anpilov, head of the Working Russia party and an open admirer of Josef Stalin; and liberal leaders such as former presidential candidate Irina Khakamada and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, among many others."

In fact, it seems all the group agrees on is that they don't like Putin. That is not enough to know whether they deserve support or not. Some of those involved are certainly "no friends of mine." There look to be too many right wing nationalists floating around in this thing to me.

Anyway, I'll keep an eye out and I would love some real analysis of "The Other Russia" from someone who knows what they are talking about.

The following article is from Kommersant (Russia).

Those Who Disagree Marched in St. Petersburg

The opposition coalition of The Other Russia ultimately succeeded in St. Petersburg after the December failure in Moscow. Roughly 5,000 marched down the city’s main Nevsky Avenue in the March of the Discontented Saturday.

In St. Petersburg, The Discontented broke through cordons of the riot police and marched down the Nevsky Avenue of the home city of President Vladimir Putin. The slogans were: “It is our city!” and “Russia without Putin, St. Petersburg without Matvienko!” More than 100 were beaten and detained during this public event of opposition, which the St. Petersburg authorities called “the provocation funded by Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky,” and to which the leaders of The Other Russia referred as the stunning success.

The authorities, which prohibited the march, did utmost to prevent the gathering. The police raided flats of the opposition activists and quite a few were pulled out of busses and trains heading for St. Petersburg from Petrozavodsk and Murmansk. Some unidentified hackers broke the web-sites informing about the event. In the city’s metro, they were constantly warning about destabilizing attempts to be taken during the extremist march.

But defying a police ban, a coalition of liberal opposition parties staged on Saturday what they called a March of the Discontented in St. Petersburg to protest at the Kremlin's tightening grip on power. At least 5,000 took part in the event instead of 2,000 promised by the opposition. They faced 3,000 officers of police and riot police summoned up from St. Petersburg, Karelia, Pskov and Vladimir.

As St. Petersburg authorities had duly prohibited the event, 113 participants faced the unsanctioned action charges. In general, the police started releasing the arrested after 5:00 p.m. Saturday. Three guards of Limonov got 15 days of administrative arrest. All Muscovites arrested during the march, including Limonov, were provided with detention protocols and would be put on trial in Moscow.

The trucks with the riot police could be seen in central St. Petersburg far into the night.

The March of the Discontented was staged by The Other Russia coalition uniting the People’s Democratic Union of Mikhail Kasyanov, United Civil Front of Garry Kasparov and National Bolsheviks of Eduard Limonov.

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