Rallies in defense of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution
, which guarantees citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and procession, were held on 31 January 2011 in altogether 70 cities across Russia. Rallies took place in Moscow, St Petersburg, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Blagoveshchensk, Omsk, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Murmansk, Yaroslavl, Yekaterinburg, Tver, Penza , Ryazan, Krasnoyarsk, Chelyabinsk, Saratov, Kurgan, Vladivostok, Tyumen, Sochi, and many other cities throughout Russia. Support rallies were held abroad: in Helsinki
, Hamburg, London
, New York, and elsewhere.
In Moscow, riot police detained 54 demonstrators on Triumfalnaya Square
, including the initiator of the Strategy-31
campaign, Eduard Limonov
, who was charged with organising an unsanctioned protest. In St Petersburg, police detained more than 60 people who had come to demonstrate in defense of the freedom of assembly on Nevsky Avenue
, outside the Gostiny Dvor metro station
, in the city centre. Four of those detained, all activists of Limonov’s Other Russia party
, were sentenced to seven days of arrest. The remaining detainees were released after a night spent under police custody.
Meanwhile, a group of human rights defenders held parallel rallies in both Moscow and St Petersburg. Rival opposition rallies have been held in both cities due to disagreements regarding dialogue with the authorities. Alexander Averin
, spokesman for the Strategy-31 campaign, noted that the authorities were using the permit given to the rally called by Lyudmila Alexeyeva
, chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group
, as an “excuse for barring the actions of citizens advocating for freedom of assembly without restrictions.” The events clearly showed that freedom of assembly was non-existent in Russia, he said.
Photos from the Strategy-31 rallies
More Blood Spilt than Usual at Latest “Strategy 31”
The Other Russia, 31 Jan 2011 http://www.theotherrussia.org/2011/01/31/more-blood-spilt-than-usual-at-latest-strategy-31/