November 4th is a national holiday in Russia, Unity Day, which commemorates the occasion in 1612 when Russians from every class united to push the Polish-Lithuanian occupation force out of the country. This year, however, both a nationalist group (anti-immigrant) and a pro-migrant group have sought to hold rallies on that day. At this moment, it is possible that both rallies will be approved. At the same time, even if one or both of the rallies were cancelled, there is significant fear that the protesters will take to the streets anyway. For the last several weeks inter-ethnic violence has plagued Russia, particularly Moscow. As a result, there are also fears that dueling rallies could spark more violence.
Below we have translated two articles about the November 4th rallies. – Ed.
This article, writen by Olga Churakova, was originally published on October 28th in Kommersant. It was translated by Pavel Aprelev.
Moscow Mayor’s Office Authorized the “Russian March” in Lyublino
Nationalists will hold their rally on the National Unity Day on November 4
The city authorities have authorized the “Russian March” on November 4 in Lyublino. This was announced by Dmitry Dyomushkin, the leader of the Russkie association and an organizer of the march. In addition to the march in Lyublino, a rally and a concert of the Kolovrat rock group will be held on National Unity Day, also agreed to by the authorities.
The leader of the Russkie association and the organizer of the event, Dmitry Dyomushkin, told Interfax that an official confirmation of the agreement will be sent to him by the authorities shortly: “I got a call from the mayor’s office. The ‘Russian march’ has been authorized.” First, the nationalists will march on Pererva street, then a rally and a rock concert of Kolovrat rock band will be held in Lyublino.
According to Mr. Demushkin, the organizers specifically checked the list of songs for possible extremist content at the request of the Department of Culture for the City of Moscow. “Specifically for this event the group has written entirely new songs. In fact, this will be a presentation of the whole album, of which the main composition is called ‘Russian March,'” said the Russkie leader.
Earlier, the city government canceled a nationalists rally against illegal immigration that was scheduled to take place on Narodnogo Opolcheniya street. Back then, Dmitry Dyomushkin said that the rally “against illegal immigration in defense of Russians, the indigenous people of Russia,” had nothing to do with the events in Biryulyovo, and had been authorized on October 9. “At the prefecture of the Northwest District they served us with the warning by the prosecutor’s office about the inadmissibility of the action after it was banned, explaining that they could not guarantee safety of citizens in light of the events in Biryulyovo and the celebration of Kurban-Bairam (Eid al-Adha). The rally is Cancelled,” Mr. Dyomushkin explained to the “Ъ” on October 17.
Why the “Russian March” will take place on the outskirts of Moscow
This year is the first time ever that the nationalists themselves suggested to the Moscow authorities to authorize a traditional march and rally not in the center of Moscow, coveted by right-wing radicals in recent years, but in Lyublino, where the authorities would always send them to.
This first article was published in Lenta on October 25, 2013. It was translated by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick.
Federation of Migrants Denies Report of Rally Cancellation in Moscow
Mukhammad Amin, head of the Federation of Migrants, denied a report that his organization decided not to hold a demonstration in Moscow on 4 November, Amin told Interfax on 25 October.
According to Amin, the mayor’s office offered to meet with him next week to discuss the form of a future event. He did not disclose any other details about the demonstration.
Interfax had earlier reported the cancellation of the rally, citing an anonymous source in the Moscow government. The source said that Amin had supposedly called his action “a premature measure.”
Mukhammad Amin first announced the so-called “march of migrants” on 22 October 2013. He promised to hold it if Moscow authorities approved the Russian March on 4 November. As Amin stated then, marches on the Day of Unity should be conducted by the army or the police, and not nationalists.
The nationalists requested to hold the Russian March in the Lyublino district or in the center of Moscow. Both applications are now under review by the Moscow mayor’s office.
Amin’s pledge to hold the Federation of Migrants’ march came about 10 days after the riots in Biryulyovo, which were staged by nationalists. The riots at the vegetable warehouse and the shopping center were provoked by the murder of Yegor Shcherbakov. An Azerbaijani, Orkhan Zeynalov, has been arrested on charges related to that crime.
The Russian March has been held in Lyublino every year since 2009. Usually about 10,000 people take part in the action.