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Russia's New Rights Chief Says 'Strategy 31' Rallies Should Be Allowed

Mikhail Fedotov, was appointed to head the Kremlin's human rights committee on October 12.
MOSCOW -- Russian Presidential Human Rights Council head Mikhail Fedotov says the Moscow mayor's office should allow the opposition to hold meetings in support of freedom of assembly, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Fedotov told RFE/RL that he planned to come to Triumph Square on October 31 to monitor a rally by the Strategy 31 movement scheduled for that date. He said human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and Moscow ombudsman Aleksandr Muzykantsky would join him.

On October 25, representatives of the mayor's office and one of the organizers of the planned demonstration, Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseyeva, reached an agreement to discuss the conditions for an approved protest by some 800 people on Triumph Square.

Strategy 31 is a campaign that supports freedom of assembly -- which is guaranteed by Article 31 of the Russian Constitution -- by holding demonstrations on the last day of every month that has 31 days.

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

All 11 previous attempts to hold a Strategy 31 gathering on Triumph Square were thwarted by the city authorities, with police using force to disperse would-be participants.