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Federation Council chairwoman on mass protests: authorities should not pretend that nothing is happening

Source: Interfax

Authorities “must meet with people and understand why they protest,” said Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of Russia’s upper house of parliament – the Federation Council – in a meeting with journalists regarding the mass protests that swept the country on March 26.

“Authorities should not simply [pretend] that nothing is happening,” she said, adding that “all government representatives – [from] members of parliament [to] senators [to] regional governors – [must] meet with people [and seek to] understand why they are going to protests [and] what they care about, [and] discuss ways to resolve these issues.”

At the same time, Matviyenko urged protest organizers to coordinate demonstrations with authorities, as rallies and related activities must be pre-approved before they can take place in Russia. “You do not have to assert yourself at the expense of the people, to let them down and put them in a situation when they are forced to come to unauthorized events,” said Matviyenko, as quoted by news agency TASS.

On March 26, anti-corruption protests took place in Moscow and nearly a hundred other cities across Russia. In most instances, the protests were not pre-approved by local authorities. Police detained rally participants. In Moscow, more than a thousand people were arrested.

A criminal case of threatening the life of a law enforcement officer was initiated after an attack on a policeman in Moscow. A criminal case of the use of violence against a police officer was initiated in Volgograd against a student at a pedagogical university. No criminal case on hooliganism was previously reported on.

After the protests, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that that teenagers who participated in the mass actions were promised money in the event of their detention. Peskov did not say who specifically had promised the teenagers remuneration.

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