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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mayor Limits Rallies

Mayor Yury Luzhkov has banned all pro-Communist rallies marking victory Day on Sunday but has agreed to allow two extreme nationalist groups to demonstrate, his chief of staff said Thursday.


Communist leaders immediately said they would ignore the mayor's prohibition, which is aimed at stemming a repeat of the May Day violence in Moscow, and the leader of one of the permitted groups hinted that rioting could break despite the ban.


"May 9 will be peaceful only in one instance", said Stanislav Terekhov, leader of the Union of Officers, a small, ultra-nationalist group that has been allowed to march. "We can assure security only when we can march to the center".


A Luzhkov decree released Thursday allows the Union of Officers to march down Tverskaya Ulitsa from the Belorussky train station to City Hall on Sovyetskaya Square.


Terekhov is demanding that his group be allowed to continue at least to Manezh Square opposite the Kremlin wall. He warned that by closing off Tverskaya midway, Mayor Luzhkov was inviting a repetition of the May Day riots, which led to one fatality and about 600 injuries as police and Communist and nationalist demonstrators clashed.


At a news conference, Luzhkov's chief of staff, Vasily Shakhnovsky, said that the mayor had banned Communist demonstrations to avoid violence among Russia's citizens on the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.


"We will do everything to avoid bloodshed and maintain order", Shakhnovsky said. "But according to our information they are already drawing up lists of who should bring what to this demonstration, including Molotov cocktails".


However, Shakhnovsky said he feared that the marches would again turn violent, and he spoke of possible "terrorist acts" in Moscow.


Russia's Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, a Yeltsin ally, warned hardliners that police would act forcefully if they defied the ban on city center protests. He said that riot police had last week been guilty of only "impermissable moderation" in the face of provocation by demonstrators.


"They will be tougher in future. . . Any provocations on May 9 will meet with firm action", Yerin told parliament.


According to leaders of the hardline parliamentary faction Russian Unity, pro-communist groups were planning to ignore the ban and also march down Tverskaya.


"We are taking part in the demonstrations to ensure that there is not a repetition of events", Vladimir Isakov, a Russian Unity leader said at a press conference Thursday.


The mayor's decree allows up to 30, 000 people with the Union of Officers group to begin marching from Belorussky station at 11: 30 P. M. The Union is allowed to hold a one-hour rally opposite City Hall.


Vladimir Zhirinovsky's ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party has also received permission to demonstrate from 3 P. M. to 6 P. M. at the Central House of Artists across from Gorky Park.


In an interview with Radio Russia, one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front, Ilya Konstantinov, said that at 10 A. M. the pro-communists will meet at the Belorussky station and march to Red Square.


Veterans of World War II are also expected to meet at sites around the capital, which has become the traditional way to commemorate the Russia's Great Patriotic War.