Lev Ponomarev: Moscow City authorities refuse to allow demonstration on 13 June

posted 13 Jun 2016, 06:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Jun 2016, 07:09 ]
2 June 2016

By Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the movement For Human Rights, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy]

Photo: Moscow Helsinki Group

Today the Moscow city authorities have refused on spurious grounds to allow a mass demonstration planned for 13 June to commemorate Russia Day. I wrote about who signed this notification about the proposed event a few days ago.

The refusal is reproduced below.

The short version: plans have been made for a march along the Boulevard Ring from the Rossiya Cinema and a rally on Prospekt Sakharova. This is a route followed by both pro-opposition and pro-government protesters on more than one occasion in the past, but the Moscow city authorities have refused to allow a demonstration in this location, suggesting Lyublinskaya Ulitsa as an alternative route.

The detailed reasons for the refusal were as follows:
“The holding of a demonstration along the specified route and a rally in the specified location would interrupt the functioning of essential services and transport and social infrastructure, disrupt pedestrian and vehicular traffic and prevent citizens from accessing their homes and transport and social infrastructure, as well as violating the rights and interests of citizens not participating in the protest. Furthermore, the “My Street” programme currently being implemented by the City of Moscow means that repairs to the road network, old drains and storm water run-offs as well as street improvements are currently being carried out, including in the specified locations.”

The first point that must occur immediately to any reader of the above is the many different demonstrations held by pro-government organisations (including pseudo-opposition parties such as the LDPR and KPRF). Apparently their demonstrations did not interrupt the functioning of any infrastructure or violate the rights of those citizens not taking part.

The second is that it is manifestly clear that the demonstration will not disturb any pedestrians or disrupt any infrastructure. The only real inconvenience is that roads will be closed to vehicular traffic for a few hours on a non-working day. Yet the right to do so is enshrined in the Constitution, so there is no logical reason why the rights of citizens not participating in the protest should take precedence over those who are taking part.

The overall message is that nothing has changed. As the saying goes, everything for one’s friends, and nothing for one’s enemies, not even the law, in fact lawlessness.

Update: At the end of today’s post, readers were asked to vote on the question, “Should the organisers of the demonstration agree to the proposed alternative route, or seek approval for a route within the Garden Ring?”

After consulting my colleagues and the site managers, I came to the conclusion that the voting system had been subject to serious flaws.

The results of the vote, which was open for three hours, were as follows: 87% were in favour of agreeing to Lyublinskaya Ulitsa, whereas 13% said that the organisers should seek to gain approval for a downtown route.

At the same time, however, a diametrically opposite result was produced by a vote during a live segment on today’s “Daily U-Turn” show, which only lasted a few minutes and which was much more resistant to external influences. The online vote ended with 7% in favour of agreeing to Lyublinskaya Ulitsa and 93% in favour of a downtown route. According to a telephone vote held by the editorial staff, 14% were in favour of Lyublinskaya Ulitsa and 86% in favour of a downtown route.

The organisers intend to reach a decision this evening.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds