Staunton, October 11 – In what appears to be part of a new trend in the Russian Federation, officials in Ufa denied a group that wanted to hold a demonstration on the republic’s Day of the [Bashkir] Republic on the basis of technicalities which earlier these same officials had been willing to overlook.
By adopting this approach, the authorities can plausibly claim that they are not doing what they so obviously are: blocking an public manifestation they do not want while providing themselves with an alibi that it is not they but the organizers who are responsible.
“It has become obvious,” the organizers say, “that someone simply doesn’t want to give Bashkir society the chance to assemble in the central part of the capital of Bashkortostan” and assumes that by denying groups permission to do so on “technicalities,” he or she will be able to achieve that goal.
But that is not the case, the organizers say. “If the republic authorities continue to prevent citizens from enjoying their rights under the Russian Constitution for freedom of assembly,” they point out, “then sooner or later, the leaders of social groups will simply cease to submit meaningless ‘petitions’ and simply begin holding such meetings” regardless.
That is what the organizers of the demonstration October 11 said they plan to do.
There are two reasons why Bashkir officials don’t want it to occur: On the one hand, organizers say they will call for the return of the title of president to the head of the republic. And on the other, this meeting would occur on the 460th anniversary of the sacking of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible, always a sensitive issue for Moscow and the peoples of the Middle Volga.