Moscow City Hall says it has issued a permit for 100,000 people to protest on August 10; protest organizers say otherwise
Moscow City Hall representatives told the state-owned wire service Interfax that they have granted a permit for up to 100,000 people to protest on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospect on August 10. Regional security official Vasily Oleynik claimed that the details of the event had been negotiated with “a group of citizens and with Elena Rusakova, one of the [protest’s] organizers.” Rusakova, who serves as a municipal deputy and whose application to run for the Moscow City Duma was denied, wrote that Oleynik was not telling the truth. Rusakova said she “did not receive any documents” regarding a permit for an August 10 protest and had instead visited City Hall to attempt to negotiate a permit for August 3 (without permits, Russian protesters are vulnerable to violent mass arrests). Noting that she was “not entirely satisfied” with the results of the conversation, Rusakova insisted that “there can be no discussion of August 10 without a guarantee of safety for [protesters on] August 3.” She subsequently called City Hall’s announcement “a naïve attempt to play at political strategy.”
Muscovites have protested regularly since mid-July to demand that opposition candidates be permitted to run for Moscow City Duma seats. The opposition politicians and their supporters have argued that local election commissions in the city are intentionally invalidating thousands of signatures on certain candidates’ registration petitions in order to keep them off the ballot. On July 27, more than 1,300 people were arrested at a mass protest that did not receive a permit, and Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case to prosecute some of those involved for inciting “mass riots.”
Russia’s Libertarian Party had previously attempted to negotiate a permit for the next scheduled protest on August 3, but its organizers refused to accept a permit to march on Sakharov Prospect, a non-central location officials often propose for protest actions. One Libertarian Party leader was jailed following the negotiations.