Moscow officials ban anti-Putin march

January 22nd, 2012 - 8:08 am ICT by IANS  

Facebook Moscow, Jan 22 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Moscow authorities have dismissed a plan proposed by critics of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to hold a 50,000-strong march Feb 4.

A group of opposition activists planned a five-hour march, a month before the presidential elections, along the Garden Ring Road in downtown Moscow. But deputy mayor Alexander Gorbenko said “the route cannot be approved due to security concerns”.

Gorbenko proposed to change the date for Feb 5, hold the march at other venues and cut the number of protesters to 10,000.

Over 20,000 people have already signed up on Facebook to participate in the protest.

Dmitry Bykov, a writer and opposition activist, told Kommersant-FM radio station that the organisers of the march would discuss the alternative routes. He, however, did not rule out holding an unauthorised protest if negotiations with the city officials fail.

Bykov said the opposition did not want to hold “static” protests anymore.

Last month, rallies against suspected vote fraud in favour of Putin’s United Russia party at the Dec 4 parliamentary polls drew thousands of protesters, who demanded rerun of the elections and implementing liberal reforms.

Between 30,000 and 60,000 people, according to independent estimates, rallied on Bolotnaya Square Dec 10, and between 45,000 and 100,000 on the Sakharov Avenue Dec 24.

Putin, who is seeking to return as president after the March elections, was one of the main targets of the protesters, who accused him of miring political legislation in red tape during his two previous presidencies in 2000-2008.

The Kremlin launched a reform to liberalise political legislation following the protests, but it would only come into force in time for the next Duma elections in 2016.

–IANS/RIA Novosti
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