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Anti-Kremlin opposition group pledges to hold rally despite official ban

Anti-Kremlin opposition group pledges to hold rally despite official ban

A liberal opposition movement said Friday it would protest the expected election victory of President Vladimir Putin's protege by holding an unauthorized rally in Moscow, despite the "inevitable" police crackdown.
The Other Russia, an opposition alliance headed by former chess champion Garry Kasparov, will gather in central Moscow on Monday, said Alexander Averin, the organizer of the protest.
"The police will inevitably use force, just like it happened before," he told The Associated Press.
In the last two years, Other Russia has organized a series of rallies dubbed Dissenters' Marches, several of which have been violently broken up by police.
Moscow authorities banned the rally on Thursday, and deputy head of Moscow police Vyacheslav Kozlov said in televised remarks he would "do everything necessary" to thwart it.
Dmitry Medvedev, first deputy prime minister and Putin's hand-picked successor, is widely expected to win Sunday's presidential election due to Putin's popularity and the Kremlin's control of most major media. The three other candidates are a Communist, an ultranationalist and a liberal widely seen as a Kremlin-backed contender.
Kasparov and Mikhail Kasyanov, Putin's first prime minister, who later became a critic, have been barred from the race on technicalities.
Kasparov's supporters are expected to hold banners reading "Down with autocracy and succession!" and "False Dmitry, get out of the Kremlin!"
False Dmitry was a 17th-century impostor who claimed to be Prince Dmitry, czar Ivan the Terrible's assassinated son, and was briefly installed as Russia's ruler by a Polish army.
Meanwhile, several pro-Kremlin youth groups said they will hold rallies and festivities on Monday to celebrate the expected election of Medvedev _ an apparent attempt to divert public attention from the Dissenter's March.
"We have no plans to disrupt the Other Russia's rally," said Ekaterina Fedotova, spokeswoman of the Young Russia movement. "Their meeting will be dispersed without us."
A half-dozen pro-Putin youth groups have sprung up in recent years, mostly organized and funded by the Kremlin or its business allies.
They staged rallies directed at Kasparov's supporters and foreign diplomats whose governments have objected to Kremlin policies.
Authorities in St. Petersburg and several other Russian cities have approved the Dissenters' Marches, but limited them to small squares that will be heavily guarded by police.


Updated : 2021-01-22 05:54 GMT+08:00