Russia's ex-premier to hold first separate opposition rally

Other News Materials 28 September 2007 22:00 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - Russian ex-premier and leader of the People for Democracy and Justice party, Mikhail Kasyanov, will for the first time lead an opposition rally October 7, in Pushkin Square, central Moscow.

The public demonstrations, dubbed March of Dissent, were previously led by members of The Other Russia opposition coalition, chess-champion-turned-politician Garry Kasparov and radical writer Eduard Limonov.

Kasyanov, 50, who resigned as prime minister in 2004 and was then accused of acquiring a state-owned luxury villa outside Moscow in a fake deal, joined The Other Russia coalition, but in July quit and formed a new party.

On October 7, Russia will mark the anniversary of the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, as well as Russian President Putin's birthday.

Some 500 people are expected to gather in Pushkin Square, next Sunday to protest President Vladimir Putin's alleged crackdown on democracy. Organizers claim some 2,000 people will join the rally.

"We were given permission to hold a meeting for 500 people," the spokesman said.

Originally the Kremlin critic had planned demonstrations in Pushkin and Teatralnaya Squares, but Moscow only gave the go ahead for a rally in Pushkin Square.

The ex-premier is a staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin and is planning to challenge the incumbent's successor in the March 2008 polls.

Opposition protests, March of Dissent, were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Samara between April and June this year. The Kremlin drew harsh criticism for the aggressive response by police in some cities.

In April around 400 people were detained in Moscow and St Petersburg, and during the EU-Russia summit in the Volga city of Samara, Kasparov and other Russian opposition leaders were stopped at Moscow airport to prevent them from the attending the demonstration.

The Other Russia will hold a federal congress September 30, to adopt its party list for the 2008 presidential elections.