Russia: Opposition Rally in St. Petersburg

Global Voices Online
Saturday, March 3, 2007

A surprisingly large opposition rally took place in St. Petersburg Saturday: a few thousand people, old and young (some came with their children, even), broke through police cordons and marched along Nevskiy Prospekt, the city's main avenue; dozens were hurt in clashes with riot police, and dozens ended up detained. Two opposition leaders - Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Kasyanov - spoke to the crowd; the third one - Eduard Limonov of the National Bolshevik Party - got arrested before the rally began. Some of the rally's slogans - "Russia Without Putin" and "This is Our City" - reflected the dual nature of the protest: as Mr. Kasyanov said (RUS), "residents of St. Petersburg are facing not only federal problems, but a huge number of issues directly related to the life of the city." St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko called the rally "a provocation" and stated that its organisers "came from Moscow, accompanied by 120 young extremist protestors."

Here's some of what LJ user aneta_spb (a St. Petersburg journalist of Belarusian descent) wrote (RUS) about the rally:

In this case, I don't care what flags people were carrying. What's important is that the most popular slogan - the one that everyone supported - was: "This is our city!"

Some deja vu, isn't it, residents of Minsk and other compatriots-Belarusians?

It was very interesting there. Take the second attempt of the march towards Nevskiy! The first time we moved forward, they dispersed the column and detained a few dozen people. So what? We went the second time and broke through. The riot police cordon was broken FOUR TIMES. Anemic St. Peterburgians, suffering from avitaminosis, from old men to redhaired artistically-bohemian-looking young women - they were marching on those well-fed (but, as it turned out, poorly trained) people in uniform. [...] I'm proud of St. Petersburg. [...]

And some more, from another post (RUS) by aneta_spb:

No, really, nothing like this had ever happened before - people marching on the riot police. Even in August 1991, when the police appeared, people at first began to run away, but they were stopped by the announcement that the police were on our side. Here everyone knew for sure that the police were being led against us - but it didn't scare them. [...]

Another St. Petersburg journalist - LJ user shavu - has posted photos from the rally (many of them rather blurry - because they were taken on the run). There are eight installments, and here's the title of the first one:

The cradle of the three revolutions has swung again. It was fun and frightening.

Below are the links to the remaining seven photo posts by shavu:

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