Opposition to Protest Inauguration

Hundreds of opposition activists will stage a protest in central Moscow on Tuesday, defying city authorities on the eve of President-elect Dmitry Medvedev's inauguration, opposition coalition The Other Russia said Monday.

More than 1,000 activists plan to gather at the Chistiye Prudy metro station at 6 p.m. Tuesday and march along the Boulevard Ring to Slavyanskaya Ploshchad to protest Medvedev's inauguration on Wednesday, coalition spokesman Alexander Averin said.

The Other Russia, led by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and writer Eduard Limonov, founder of the banned National Bolshevik Party, submitted a request to City Hall on April 21 to hold the march.

City Hall rejected the request in an April 29 letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Moscow Times, recommending that the coalition "choose a different location" because another group had already reserved the location.

In recent years, city authorities have rejected several requests by opposition activists to hold protests, often saying that pro-Kremlin youth groups had already been granted the desired locations for rallies.

City Hall spokesman Mikhail Solomentsev told Interfax on Monday that the starting point for the protest had already been reserved by one such group: Young Russia.

Solomentsev accused The Other Russia of "continuing to make provocative statements" and said authorities would take necessary measures to ensure the protest does not go forward.

A woman who answered the phone at City Hall's press office Monday directed all inquiries to the city department responsible for ensuring public order. Repeated calls to the department went unanswered Tuesday.

City police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said senior officers were meeting Monday to discuss police deployments to deal with the unsanctioned demonstration but that no information would be available until Tuesday.

Previous Dissenters' Marches in Moscow have turned violent. On March 3, OMON riot police detained more than 100 protesters who assembled at Chistiye Prudy to protest Medvedev's election — in defiance of a similar City Hall injunction.

Averin said Limonov would participate in the protest. Citing safety concerns, Kasparov declined to confirm his attendance. Kasparov said he had been followed by unidentified individuals in recent days.

Still, Kasparov said, the march would go on as planned despite the ban. "We are going to show off our determination to fight," he said.

Young Russia spokeswoman Yekaterina Fedotova said activists from the pro-Kremlin group planned to hold a rally dedicated to the Victory Day celebrations on Friday.

Fedotova said she could not remember exactly when the group applied for permission for the rally at the site but that she was certain it was before The Other Russia submitted its request.