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Moscow Probes Reasons For Mass Protest In Kaliningrad

Security forces watch as thousands of opposition protesters gather in Kaliningrad.
Security forces watch as thousands of opposition protesters gather in Kaliningrad.
KALININGRAD, Russia -- Russian presidential envoy Ilya Klebanov has made a trip to Kaliningrad to investigate a 10,000-person protest this weekend against the United Russia party, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Klebanov met on February 1 with Georgy Boos, the governor of Kaliningrad Oblast. No details of their meeting were available.

Representatives from the Prosecutor-General's Office in Moscow led by Deputy General-Prosecutor Aleksandr Gutsan and a delegation of the ruling United Russia party came to Kaliningrad today to meet with officials and to discuss the situation.

The protest -- one of the largest in Russia in several years -- was sanctioned by local officials and was originally set to challenge an increase in transportation taxes. Most of the region's opposition parties took part in the demonstration, where participants were highly critical of Kaliningrad's government.

Regional Duma Deputy Solomon Ginzburg, an independent who helped organize the action, told RFE/RL that leaders at the rally adopted a resolution that makes political and economic demands of the government.

Ginzburg said United Russia representative Boos is responsible for creating anti-Moscow and pro-separatist sentiment in Kaliningrad.

He added that "Boos should leave the post as his and United Russia's popularity in the region are very low."

Meanwhile, political observer Nikolai Petrov told RFE/RL that the mass protest in Kaliningrad might have been used by the local political elite "to get rid of that Muscovite Boos."

Petrov said Russian authorities will try to find the reasons for the protest in order to prevent similar actions from taking place in other parts of the country.

Boos, 47, is a close associate of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. His five-year term as governor ends in the summer.