The next Strategy 31 rally will be in the format of a sit-in accompanied by clapping.
Three unregistered oppositional parties started what they call a broad campaign of civil disobedience protesting the upcoming State Duma election — which is expected to exclude oppositional parties — with a protest rally on Sunday.
An estimated 200 came to the authorized demo held on Pionerskaya Ploshchad by the local branches of the ROT Front (Russian United Labor Front), The People’s Freedom Party (ParNaS) and The Other Russia, parties that have repeatedly been refused registration by the Justice Ministry during the past 12 months.
Unregistered parties will not be allowed to participate in the upcoming election.
The protesters objected to the Kremlin’s practices of not allowing the opposition to take part in the election campaign, as well as many other cited violations accompanying elections in contemporary Russia.
“It was our first joint event,” The Other Russia’s local chair Andrei Dmitriyev said.
“Despite differences in political views, we are planning to go on battling against the election without a choice due in December.”
Earlier, The Other Russia’s leader Eduard Limonov invited voters to boycott the upcoming State Duma election as “unfree.”
“More and more people realize that the issue of power is not solved through elections in this country,” Dmitriyev said.
“Two or a few more people decide it all for us in the Kremlin. It’s insulting and unacceptable.”
The slogans “No to Election Without a Choice” and “Election With No Opposition Is a Crime” will be added to Strategy 31 rallies held in defense of the right of assembly on the 31st day of months that have 31 days, Dmitriyev said.
The parties also invited people to join protests against the expected falsification of the results on the day of the State Duma election, December 4. The protests are due to be held across Russia at 6 p.m. at the same sites where Strategy 31 rallies are traditionally held.
In St. Petersburg, that site is located in front of Gostiny Dvor metro station on Nevsky Prospekt, dubbed by activists “Ploshchad Svobody” (Freedom Square).
“I think that there is a mood of unavoidable defeat in society now, and if people rise up by the beginning of the election season and take to the streets in large numbers, the Russian Winter might overshadow the Arab Spring — the disturbances in the Arab countries that we have seen during the past six months,” Dmitriyev said.
“I think the same scenario could be repeated in Russia. In any event, we’ll be calling on people to take to the streets on election day.”
On Monday, the local Strategy 31 organizers submitted an application to City Hall for the July 31 rally. Dmitriyev said that after receiving the reply, which is most likely to be a rejection, an open letter will be written to the newly appointed St. Petersburg police chief Mikhail Sukhodolsky.
Following an idea put forward by Limonov last month, the upcoming Strategy 31 rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg will be held in the form of sit-ins.
“Our activists will sit on the ground with their arms locked; as experience has shown that such demos are more difficult to disperse,” Dmitriyev said.
“Those who don’t want to sit will support them with applause, as has been done in Belarus recently.”
None of the rallies — held in St. Petersburg since January 31, 2010 — have been authorized by City Hall, with the police invariably dispersing the events and making scores of arrests.