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Moscow OKs One Freedom-Of-Assembly Protest, Bans Another

Lyudmila Alekseyeva

Lyudmila Alekseyeva

Moscow city authorities today officially approved a planned rally by a group of human rights and opposition activists in support of freedom of assembly, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Authorities gave the green light to the March 31 rally -- organized by activists including Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwomen Lyudmila Alekseyeva -- days after banning a similar protest planned for the same day.

Alekseyeva said today that her group's rally will be held on Moscow's Pushkin Square, not on Triumph Square, as it was in the past. Alekseyeva said city officials refused to permit the activists to march through the streets after the demonstration.

Eduard Limonov, a leader of the Other Russia opposition group, applied last week to the mayor's office for permission to hold a large-scale Strategy 31 gathering on March 31 on Triumph Square. But city authorities rejected that application on March 18.

Limonov said that he and his supporters will gather on Triumph Square despite the ban and march from there to Red Square.

Limonov launched the Strategy 31 campaign in 2009. The movement holds protests on the last day of months with 31 days to commemorate Article 31 of the Russian Constitution that guarantees freedom of assembly.

Other opposition groups and rights activists later joined the campaign.

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.

Authorities in St. Petersburg have refused permission for a March 31 rally there.

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