MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti)
Moscow City Hall chose the Communists over supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, allowing the leftist party to hold a rally on the downtown Manezh Square on February 23.
The Communists requested permission to lead 5,000 in a march down Tverskaya Ulitsa to the square, located outside the Kremlin walls, but City Hall said on Friday it would only sanction the event on Manezh Square and not the march.
Putin’s supporters requested permission for a march and rally of 200,000 in the same spot that day, but the Moscow government asked them to slash the maximum attendance in half and move the event to either Poklonnaya Gora park or the Luzhniki sports complex, both in the city’s west.
A Just Russia party also requested a rally on Manezh Square on February 23, but would be asked to move it elsewhere, City Hall official Alexander Gorbenko said. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats will be allowed to bring out 2,500 on Pushkin Square near Moscow City Hall.
A grassroots opposition protest against Putin, who is running for president in the March elections, is also planned for February 26, when activists plan to lead out 34,000 people to line up around the 16-kilometer Garden Ring “to encircle” the Kremlin. Gorbenko said on Friday the event requires no permission as long as the participants keep to the sidewalks.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).