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Siberian Officials Nix Pro-Putin Anticorruption Protest


President Vladimir Putin

Authorities in the Siberian city of Tomsk have rejected an application from locals wishing to hold a demonstration using the slogan "Anticorruption Picket In Support Of Vladimir Putin."

Activist Galina Shergina told RFE/RL on December 9 that local pensioners had submitted the application in order to draw attention to alleged corruption by local authorities and the problems this causes them.

Authorities rejected the application, saying that all the city's public spaces were already reserved for activities during the time of the planned protest.

Shergina insisted that the demonstration was intended to support President Vladimir Putin in his self-proclaimed efforts to combat corruption.

She said she planned to appeal the city's rejection.

Shergina and several other members of her group were fined amounts ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 rubles ($85-$420) over the summer for recording a 40-second video appeal to Putin complaining of local corruption. Because the video was filmed in front of the local government building, the pensioners were charged with participating in an unsanctioned demonstration.

Shergina made headlines in October when she blocked the car of Russian Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin in Moscow in order to hand him a complaint about the activities of Tomsk officials.

Opposition activists in Tomsk say they have not been able to receive permission to hold any demonstrations for the last few months. Each time they apply, officials say all the city's public spaces have been reserved.

Putin announced on December 6 that he will run for a fourth term in the election scheduled for March 2018. Because the Kremlin strictly controls Russia's political environment and its elections, Putin is widely expected to win another six-year term.

Putin has ruled Russia either as president or prime minister since 1999. His fourth term could potentially be his last: Putin, 65, would be barred from seeking reelection in 2024 because the constitution prohibits presidents from holding more than two consecutive terms.

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