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Veteran Russian Rights Defender Quits 'Strategy 31'

Russian rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva

Russian rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva

MOSCOW -- The chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group said today she will stop organizing Strategy 31 demonstrations in support of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva said that instead of the popular protests that were held during the months that have 31 days, she and other activists and rights defenders will organize "cultural mass gatherings" to defend the constitution and fair elections.

Alekseyeva, 83, said the first such gathering is planned for May 17.

Alekseyeva had been a main organizer of the Strategy 31 protests, most of which were not approved by city officials and led to the detention of activists.

The Strategy 31 campaign was launched in 2009 by Eduard Limonov, a leader of the Other Russia movement. Other opposition groups and rights activists joined the campaign later.

Limonov and Alekseyeva split in October after Alekseyeva agreed to the Moscow authorities' request to limit the number of demonstrators at the protests to 1,000. Limonov accused her of collaborating with government officials and began organizing separate rallies.

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