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Russia Says Police Have No Orders To Break Up Protest Camp


Opposition activists take part in an antigovernment protest in central Moscow on May 10.

Opposition activists take part in an antigovernment protest in central Moscow on May 10.

Moscow police have no orders to disperse a tent camp of about 100 people set up on a downtown square, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Earlier, the independent newspaper "Novaya gazeta" published a report citing unnamed "competent sources" as saying the "political decision" to break up the camp had already been made, although the timing of its implementation has not been deciced.

Deputy Moscow Mayor Aleksandr Gorbenko told Interfax that the tent camp will not be dismantled as long as demonstrators do not break the law.

The demonstrators are protesting against Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency for a third term of office.

Sympathy demonstrations were held in cities across Russia on May 12 without reported violence or arrests.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 Russians say they will attend a "walking" protest against Putin in Moscow on May 13.

The walk, the latest in a series of alternative protest tactics following a violent police crackdown on traditional demonstrations, is due to be led by a number of well-known Russian writers, including novelist Boris Akunin and singer Andrei Makarevich.

Participants signaled their interest by signing up on a special page on the Facebook social networking site.

Akunin says the walking protest will be a test of authorities' reactions days after government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said police would break up even peaceful protests if they were deemed illegal.

City police say they will not interfere with the protest as long as its participants obey the law.

Based on reporting by AFP, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax

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