Public safety officials in the Sverdlovsk oblast have refused to allow journalists from the Yekaterinburg-based website 66.ru to stage a demonstration demanding the resignations of President Vladimir Putin and his regional envoy, Igor Kholmanskikh. Authorities also banned a picket in support of US foreign policy and American President Barack Obama.
Responding to the journalists' request for permits to hold these demonstrations, officials argued that the activities would violate Russia's Constitution, and could be interpreted as propaganda aimed at undermining the country's national security and inciting social and national hatred. Officials reportedly responded to the three different permit requests with three identical rejections.
The attempt to get permission for the pro-US, anti-Putin demonstrations was part of an experiment by 66.ru, in which the website submitted permit requests for 18 different rallies. In addition to the three demonstrations that were denied permits outright, another four requests (for and against Sverdlovsk's governor and Yekaterinburg's mayor) were granted, though officials insisted on moving the rallies to remote locations. The rest of the requests—for rallies in support of Putin and Kholmanskikh, against the United States, and for and against various local politicians—were granted, without any conditions.
All of 66.ru's permit requests described demonstrations that would take place on Saturday, April 2. After finishing the experiment, 66.ru formally withdrew from all the rallies.