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Moscow Rejects Application For 1991 Coup Commemoration

Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov

Municipal authorities in Moscow have denied permission for a commemoration march to mark the 25th anniversary of the failed hard-line coup attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Demonstration organizer Lev Ponomaryov, head of the For Human Rights nongovernmental organization, wrote on his blog on August 16 that his group had asked permission to hold its annual commemoration march in the center of the city and to lay wreathes at a monument to the three men who were killed during the tumultuous 1991 events.

However, Moscow authorities rejected the application this year and urged organizers to hold the event at a park on the outskirts of the city.

"Of course, we aren't going to place wreaths in Sokolniki instead of at the place where they died,” Ponomaryov wrote.

A Levada Center poll earlier this month found that only 50 percent of respondents could describe the significance of the events of August 19-21, 1991, while 48 percent could not.

Thirty-five percent of respondents agreed that the events were “"an episode in the fight for power in high places," while just 8 percent said they were "a victory of democratic revolution that brought an end to the rule of the Soviet Communist Party."