Embassy Targeted by Bolsheviks

In a protest timed with Dmitry Medvedev's inauguration as president, National Bolshevik activists staged a sit-in inside the Russian Embassy in Kiev on Tuesday to demand that the Kremlin open a dialog with the opposition.

"It is impossible in our country for any opposition group to talk with the government. All doors are closed," said Alexander Ivanov, a member of the banned National Bolshevik Party who took part in the protest.

"This demonstration on the day the new president was inaugurated was the only way to make our voices heard," he said by telephone from Kiev.

Ten National Bolshevik activists entered the consulate section of the Russian Embassy at 10 a.m. and asked for a meeting with the ambassador, Viktor Chernomyrdin, to deliver a written appeal. In addition to a dialog, the appeal asked Russian authorities to free detained National Bolshevik activists, to lift the ban on the group, and to dissolve the "undemocratically elected" State Duma, said National Bolshevik spokesman Alexander Averin.

The protesters left the Kiev consulate after an embassy counselor met with them, Averin and Ivanov said. "This was the first time that a representative of the Russian authorities has talked with the opposition," Ivanov said.

A Russian Embassy spokesman declined comment. "I haven't heard anything about this," he said.

Ivanov said dozens of police officers stood outside the embassy during the sit-in, but no protesters were detained.

Nine of the activists arrived from Moscow on Tuesday to take part in the protest, Ivanov said. The 10th activist, Anna Ploskonosova, lives in Ukraine after applying for asylum in March. Several National Bolsheviks have fled to Ukraine recently to seek asylum and to avoid what they call fabricated criminal cases against them in Russia.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said Wednesday's protest was unlikely to influence Ukrainian authorities' decisions about whether to grant asylum to Ploskonosova and other National Bolsheviks. "Politics is not forbidden in Ukraine," he said.