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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nov. 7 Marches Aimed at President

Moscow police Friday announced a massive security operation to avert trouble when thousands of angry protesters march through the Russian capital Saturday to mark the 81st anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution.

Communist leaders, who have stepped up their rhetoric against the Kremlin this week, claim up to 350,000 people will join the marches in Moscow and will be calling for President Boris Yeltsin to be removed from office.

The protests - coming just days after a car rigged with a bomb and driven by a man angry at delays in his pension exploded meters from the Kremlin walls - will be followed vigilantly by authorities anxious to avoid public disturbances.

Moscow police chief Nikolai Kulikov said Friday that no protesters would be allowed onto Red Square. He said at a news conference that his men will be on heightened alert Saturday with a total of 1,875 police officers patrolling the city. The OMON riot police will be on hand at the marches but will be used "in exceptional cases" only.

Operatives from the Federal Security Service, or FSB, will also be drafted in. Plainclothes officers will monitor the crowds while security at strategically important installations in the city will be stepped up.

However, the FSB said it had no information about violent action or acts of sabotage being planned for Saturday, Interfax reported.

Alexander Kuvayev, leader of the Moscow Communist Party, predicted a sizeable turnout Saturday. "We are expecting mass participation. Many young people will take part, we know that already," Kuvayev said earlier this week.

"The slogan of the demonstration and the meeting will be the demand for Yeltsin's resignation and support for his impeachment," Kuvayev said.

Kuvayev this week prompted a bitter row when he announced that the Communist Party was preparing a blacklist of journalists it considers to have "collaborated' with the Yeltsin regime. This was followed by an angry reaction from media executives.

The government Friday appealed to both sides for calm. "Fomenting this kind of conflict leads to the raising of the political temperature throughout society at a time when the social and economic crisis is far from over," the government press office said in a statement.

Demonstrators Saturday are expected to march in two columns from Kaluzhskaya Ploshchad. One column will gather at 9 a.m. and head for Lubyanskaya Ploschad, where a rally calling for Yeltsin to be impeached will get under way at 11 a.m.

The other group of demonstrators will set off from Kaluzhskaya Ploshchad at 10:30 am and march to Vasilyevsky Spusk, next to the Kremlin.

The number of protestors is likely to be considerably less than opposition leaders have been claiming. Police Chief Kulikov suggested that no more than 50,000 people would attend, and possibly even fewer in light of recent cold weather.

Opposition leaders had been forecasting that massive numbers would take to the streets for last month's nationwide day of protest, but in the event turnout was paltry. In Moscow, the event passed without incident apart from some drunken brawls after most off the protestors had gone home.

According to police figures, only some 20,000 protestors showed up to mark last year's 80th anniversary of the revolution. Then, too, protests passed without incident.

Kulikov expressed confidence there would be no trouble Saturday and said he was reassured by the fact that no demonstrators will be allowed on to Red Square.

"The organizers of the demonstration got an official refusal from the Kremlin Commandant's Office and the Supreme Court." Kulikov told journalists. "We have a Supreme Court decision, a legal basis for not letting any demonstrations happen on Red Square," he said.

Kulikov added that police had held consultations with the organizers of the protest to ensure everything went smoothly.

"We don't want to repeat the mistake of Oct. 7, when the political leaders left very early, while police had to deal with an uncontrollable drunk crowd, he said. "Political leaders should be the last to leave. They have to take responsibility for what they've organized."

The marches will cause traffic disruption around downtown Moscow. According to the State Inspectorate for Road Traffic Safety, the following streets will be closed to traffic between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday: Novy Arbat, Tverskaya, Bolshaya Yakimanka, Bolshaya Polyanka, Mokhovaya, Znamenka, Varvarka, Petrovka, Myasnitskaya, Pyatnitskaya. Borovitskaya Ploshchad, Lubyanskaya Ploshchad, Bolotnaya Ploshchad and Bolotnaya Naberezhnaya will also be closed.