The Opposition March for Freedom

June 14, 2013
One of the slogans of the campaign was the phrase "on June 12 at 12:00 for 12 people" ("the 12 defendants in the "Swamp things" on which has already begun the process") Photo: The New Times

[On June 12, the national “Day of Russia,” Russia’s opposition organized their “March Against Butchers,” with an estimated turnout of between 6,000-30,000. This article describes the events of the day—Ed.]

According to the Interior Ministry Main Department of the City of Moscow, no serious violations of public order were registered during the march of June 12. Reports estimated a turnout of between 6,000 and 30,000, according to the organizers’ estimates. The activists working on the White Counter project counted people passing through metal detectors and reported 8,200 participants.

Even before the march started, nine activists from the Left Front were arrested. According to the police, the activists had flares, as well as flags and other attributes of their movement, whose activities had been temporary suspended by the Prosecutor’s Office. According to some witnesses, the symbol of the Left Front on red flags was patched over with a black square with the word “censorship” written across it. In the local police station, the arrested individuals were booked and charged under the Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code (“failure to obey a legitimate order by a law enforcement officer”), which is punishable by 15 days in jail. Also at the beginning of the march, a nationalist was arrested for igniting a flare. He was separated from the crowd and handed over to the police by the organizers of the event.

Alexei Navalny, who recently announced his decision to run for Moscow Mayor, was met with applause. The column marching under a banner that said “For Our and Your Freedom!” was headed by well-known opposition activists, including Ilya Yashin, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Mikhail Kasyanov, and Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin.

Just like during previous protest rallies, the participants demanded the release of political prisoners in general and the “Bolotnaya Prisoners” in particular. There were some new slogans reflecting more recent developments, such as “Navalny Is Our Mayor,” “Lyudmilla Without Putin”, and “Russia, Follow Lyudmilla!”

A similar event on Marsovo Pole in St. Petersburg attracted about 250 participants. After the meeting, some people staged individual protests holding banners with slogans such as “The True Criminals of Bolotnaya,” with portraits of Putin, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, and Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

“The event was a success. It was a quite dynamic, interesting rally featuring very relevant slogans and banners,” said Pyotr Tsarkov, a member of the Organizing Committee of the “March Against the Butchers.” He said that the next opposition rally won’t happen before the Navalny trial is over.