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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Opposition Plans to March on April 14

ReutersOther Russia leaders Eduard Limonov, left, and Garry Kasparov talking before meeting with reporters on Friday.
The Other Russia, a coalition of political opposition groups, applied Friday for a permit to hold a large-scale march in central Moscow on April 14.

The so-called Dissenters' March will take place with or without a permit from City Hall, organizers said.

"We have a constitutional right to hold peaceful demonstrations," said Alexander Averin, spokesman for the unregistered National Bolshevik Party, who submitted the application.

City officials promised a decision by Wednesday, Averin said.

The Other Russia has also applied for a permit to hold a march in St. Petersburg on April 15.

Police dispersed similar marches last month in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

Last December, some 2,500 activists from The Other Russia descended on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad, where they were surrounded by 8,500 riot police officers.

"It is obvious that as the authorities take a harder line, the chances increase that the power vertical will simply collapse," former chess champion turned opposition leader Garry Kasparov told reporters Friday.

Kasparov heads the United Civil Front, which is joined in The Other Russia by writer Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's Popular Democratic Union.

Organizers say the march will proceed down Tverskaya Ulitsa to Teatralnaya Ploshchad. They expect up to 5,000 people to attend.

Nikolai Kulikov, the city's point man on security, said the needs of drivers would be factored into the decision, adding that drivers "aren't likely to take kindly to street closures in the city center on a weekend," Kommersant reported Friday.

Kulikov's secretary referred all questions to Sergei Tsoi, spokesman for Mayor Yury Luzhkov. Tsoi was unavailable for comment Friday.

In addition to a large police presence, organizers of the April 14 march are expecting to clash with a handful of nationalist Russian Orthodox Church groups, which have threatened the marchers.

"If we aren't scared of thousands of OMON [riot police], then why should we be scared of these groups?" Averin said.

As well as flags with anti-Putin slogans, some of the demonstrators will be brandishing the black, yellow and white imperial flag, a powerful nationalist symbol.

Yegor Ovchinnikov, co-director of Georgiyevtsy!, a nationalist Orthodox youth group, threatened retaliation against anyone carrying the flag during the march.

"If participants of the march attack us, we will defend ourselves," he told Kommersant. "And if they raise the imperial flag, we will consider that to be an attack,"

"Ovchinnikov's words do not scare us," Averin said.

Pavel Zarifullin, a leader of the EuroAsian Youth Union, which calls for the return of imperial rule and emphasizes the role of the Russian Orthodox Church, said he was joining with other youth organizations to defy the dissenters.

"The Other Russia says it wants 'freedom against,'" Zarifullin said. "We want 'freedom for.'"