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Activists Lyudmila Alekseyeva (left) and Eduard Limonov at a press conference in Moscow in August
Russian opposition and human rights activists have officially asked Moscow city authorities for permission to hold a demonstration in support of freedom of assembly at the end of the month, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva, head of Moscow's Helsinki Group and an organizer of the Strategy 31 protests, told RFE/RL that up to 1,500 people were expected to take part in the protest due to be held on Moscow's Triumph Square on January 31.

Strategy 31 is a campaign in support of freedom of assembly -- which is guaranteed by Article 31 of the Russian Constitution -- by holding demonstrations on the last day of the months that have 31 days.

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

Limonov and Alekseyeva split in October 2010 after the latter agreed to the authorities' request to limit the number of demonstrators. Limonov accused her of collaborating with Moscow officials.

Alekseyeva says she asked Limonov to join the action on an equal footing. Limonov announced earlier that he planned to hold a separate Strategy 31 gathering with his supporters on January 31.

Alekseyeva and Limonov held separate gatherings on December 31. Police detained 68 activists, including Limonov and prominent opposition figures Boris Nemtsov and Ilya Yashin, all of whom were given up to 15 days in jail.

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Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
More political activists have been detained in Belarus, as Minsk set a provisional date for the presidential inauguration following last month's disputed election, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Police in the western city of Berastse detained three activists today for holding an unsanctioned gathering in support of opposition leaders and their supporters arrested in Minsk.

Ivan Stasyuk, Yury Bakura, and Viktoryia Hryshanava were distributing copies of a brochure expressing solidarity with dozens of opposition activists in front of the Berastse Oblast Administration. Police took them to Berastse's Lenin district police department.

Several opposition presidential candidates and hundreds of their supporters were arrested in Belarus on December 19-20 after they protested the results of the presidential election, which they say was rigged.

Incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was announced the runaway winner of the vote, which international election monitors said was flawed.

Belarusian Central Election Commission Secretary Mikalay Lazavik told RFE/RL today that Lukashenka's inauguration is provisionally scheduled for January 21. Under Belarusian law, the presidential inauguration must take place no later than two months after the election.

Four former presidential candidates -- Ales Mikhalevich, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, Andrey Sannikau, and Mikalay Statkevich -- remain in custody. They have been formally charged with organizing mass unrest.

Nyaklyaeu and Sannikau were both beaten before they were arrested and have not yet recovered from their injuries.

Read in Belarusian here

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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