Demonstrations in 18 regions in Russia
Every month, on the 31st, Russian activists demonstrate in support of the article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees the right of the Russian citizens …’to gather peacefully, without weapons, and to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets’.
The demonstrations are called The rally of dissent and is part of the strategy organised by the opposition coalition Other Russia. On the last day of January around 600 activists gathered on the Triumphal Square in Moscow, among them Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alexeyeva and well known activists Oleg Orlov and Lev Ponomarev in order to support their constitutional rights.
Similar protests in support of freedom of assembly were arranged in 18 regions of Russian Federation. In Kaliningrad around 12 000 were gathered. The event in Moscow was disrupted by the internal military forces and the notorious OMON police forces and around 100 persons were arrested, among them Oleg Orlov. On December 31, the leader of Moscow Helsinki group Lyudmila Alexeyeva was detained during a similar event. Last Sundays' event was held without permission from Moscow City authorities even though an application was duly submitted. All previous rallies have been unsanctioned, as well.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned about the lack of freedom of assembly in Russia and the abuses against peaceful demonstrators exercised by Russian police officers. The Russian authorities should protect the Constitutional right of the Russian citizens to express their views in a peaceful manner.