Local Demonstrations Continue Over Ukraine
Published: March 19, 2014 (Issue # 1802)
The police allowed a protest against Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine on Mar. 15 despite City Hall’s refusal to authorize the gathering. Held near the Kazan Cathedral on the eve of the Crimean referendum on joining Russia, the protest drew between 500 and 600 people.
Unlike an unauthorized rally on St. Isaac’s Square on Mar. 2, where more than 30 people were detained and charged with violating the laws regulating rallies and failing to obey police orders, arrests were few at Kazan Cathedral.
The protesters attribute the small number of arrests to the presence of St. Petersburg ombudsman Alexander Shishlov and the Legislative Assembly’s Yabloko deputy Boris Vishnevsky, who negotiated with the chief of the St. Petersburg Public Security Police, Col. Alexei Smyatsky, who was the ranking officer at the site.
“I went because I had to,” Vishnevsky told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.
“If I am a deputy and a representative of my people; I had to be with my people on that square. I also had to negotiate with the police so that they would not break up the rally simply because it had not been authorized. I think ombudsman Alexander Shishlov and I managed to do this. I think the police acted in an almost exemplary way,” Vishnevsky said.
“I have very good impressions of the protest. The only thing [I regret] is that there were so few of us. I had hopes that there would be more people in the city who were emphatically against what is happening now,” he added.
Displaying placards at unauthorized protests frequently leads to arrest, and while some people did so, others expressed their position in other ways.
Related: Local Protesters Acquitted in Maidan Event
Some wore yellow and blue ribbons representing the colors of the Ukrainian flag, while others wore yellow-and-blue buttons reading, “No to War.” One young woman with fingernails painted yellow and blue was expressively reading from George Orwell’s novel “1984,” while a man wore a coat which had the words “Down with War, Up with Rock and Roll” painted on it.
One woman held a placard with a quote from 19th century Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, while another pinned to her chest a sheet reading “The annexation of Crimea is the road to war and a threat of fascism.” Another man held a placard reading “Stop” and “Shame on Warmongers.” One placard seen at the rally bore a biblical quote: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” another, “Lies, Censorship and Violence. What Will We Bring to Crimea?”
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