Hundreds March Down Nevsky in Protest
Published: May 7, 2014 (Issue # 1809)
Hundreds of protesters marched along St. Petersburg’s main street, Nevsky Prospekt, on May 1, to protest against the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. The protest was held as part of the May Day demonstrations — which traditionally features a broad political spectrum of protests from animal rights activists to neo-Nazis, but most were pro-Kremlin parties and movements such as United Russia, Just Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
Police estimate that up to 37,000 people participated in the various marches along Nevsky, mostly from parties and movements loyal to the Kremlin. The different political groups marched at a distance from each other, separated by police and then went on to hold stationary rallies at different sites in central St. Petersburg.
The main slogan written on the Anti-War Democratic March’s banner, which was carried by the front row of the protesters, said “For Friendship with Ukraine and the European Integration of Russia. No to U.S.S.R. 2.0.”
Protesters carried placards proclaiming “For Democracy in Russia and Ukraine,” “War Is Madness,” “Putin. God Sees Everything. Stop,” “Ukraine, God Is on Your Side” and “Putin, Leave Ukraine Alone, Better Feed Our Old People and Children.”
Organized by the Democratic St. Petersburg coalition, the Anti-War Democratic March drew between 1,000 and 1,500 protesters, organizer Natalya Tsymbalova said. Protesters included those from the Yabloko Democratic Party, human rights groups, Free Ingria group and LGBT rights groups. The protesters also carried small Russian, Ukrainian and European Union flags.
Tsymbalova considered the number to be large for St. Petersburg. “I think it’s a lot, because fewer people have attended in previous years,” she told The St. Petersburg Times.
The protesters also marched to music blared from a vehicle in front of the group. The musical pieces included the national anthem of Ukraine, the “Patriotic Song” by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, which served as the national anthem of Russia until it was abolished by President Vladimir Putin in 2000, and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the national anthem of the European Union and the Council of Europe.
According to Tsymbalova, city authorities did not object to the slogans used during the march and the subsequent stationary rally, even after City Hall had twice refused to authorize the rally ahead of May 1. “However, this happens every time. They just want to show who’s the boss, who’s the one who issues permits,” she said.
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