Prosecutors Rule Against City Hall

City prosecutors have sided with opposition activists who say City Hall broke the law by not granting permission for a Dissenters' March last month, the activists said Wednesday.

Prosecutors ruled that City Hall violated the federal law on public gatherings by failing to respond punctually to the organizers' request to hold the May 6 march, Yevgeny Ikhlov, a spokesman for the movement For Human Rights, said Wednesday.

City Hall also violated the law by not providing an area for the protesters to hold the demonstration, according to the May 22 ruling, Ikhlov said.

The May 22 ruling is a rare instance — if a largely symbolic one — of authorities siding with the opposition.

Alexander Averin, spokesman for the banned National Bolshevik Party, was cautiously optimistic about the decision.

"If they allow us to hold a march next time, that would mean the prosecutors' decision has worked out," Averin said. "But if they don't, then it's just an attempt by prosecutors to save face post facto."

City Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Irina Titova declined to comment immediately Wednesday.

City Hall spokesman Mikhail Solomentsev defended the city authorities' handling of the activists' request to hold the protest.

"The march organizers received on time a verbal proposal to hold the march in another place, which they rejected," Solomentsev said. "The law does not specify in which form the response must be provided."

Around 40 protesters were arrested outside the Chistiye Prudy metro on May 6 after trying to attend the unauthorized demonstration.