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Opposition Claims Rally Led by Civil Servants

Published: March 26, 2014 (Issue # 1803)



  • Official figures put the number of demonstrators at the pro-annexation rally on Konyushennaya Ploshchad at 35,000.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

Opposition and human rights activists have stated that municipal deputies and employees of state-owned enterprises were instructed to attend or send a number of people to a rally in support of the annexation of Crimea held in the city last week.

The rally was part of a national campaign of rallies that were reportedly held in every major Russian city on Mar. 18, hours after a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he announced the annexation of Crimea.

Alexander Shurshev, a municipal council deputy of the Yekateringofsky municipal district and a member of the Civil Platform party, posted on Mar. 17 a letter that he said had been sent by the Admiralteisky District Administration to local municipalities.

The letter stated that a city meeting would be held on Konyushennaya Ploshchad at 5:30 p.m. on Mar. 18 and instructed the heads of municipal units located within Admiralteisky District to organize the participation at the event of deputies of the municipal council and members of the local administration numbering 15 people.

The letter went on to state that information about the participants should be sent to a district administration email address before Mar. 18. The letter did not specify the purpose of the rally.

If such an order was sent to every municipality, that makes 2,000 people not counting all of the state-funded institutions, Shurshev wrote.

The letter appeared to be an authentic official document and bore the name of Diana Chapurina, the deputy head of the district administration, as the sender, but lacked a signature.

Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times on Monday, Shurshev said that such instructions are usually sent without a signature deliberately, so that the sender could later deny his or her involvement. Compelling people to take part in a rally is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison if committed by an official using his or her position, according to Article 149 of the Criminal Code.

It has been well known for long time that the authorities bring administrative personnel and the employees of state-owned enterprises to these kind of rallies, but this is the first time that I received such a letter, Shurshev said.

According to Shurshev, the Admiralteisky District Administration reacted to the posting via its official Twitter account five days later, dismissing it as a forgery.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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