Opposition stages rallies in support of freedom of assembly

A dozen opposition rallies protesting alleged restrictions on the constitutional freedom of assembly have been held on July 31 across Russia, although most of them attracted few participants.

The rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg were not sanctioned by the authorities and 95 people have been detained in the two cities, Interfax news agency reports. In Moscow, among those detained was opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and head of the “Left Front” movement Sergey Udaltsov, who were taking part in the protest, which brought together around 200 people.

In Moscow, the rally on Triumfalnaya Square in the city center was also attended by leader of the opposition movement “The Other Russia” Eduard Limonov and human rights activist Ludmila Alekseeva.

According to the Interior Ministry, 13 rallies took place across the country, though they have attracted few people. For example, in Vladivostok 15 people held a rally, in Blagoveshchensk seven gathered on one of the central squares. “We can say that they have been small-scale. There were no breaches of security,” Ria Novosti reports, quoting its police source.

It is not the first time the opposition has held a rally in support of the 31st article of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly. The first one was organized on 31 July, 2009, in Moscow. It was not sanctioned by the city's mayor, Yury Luzhkov. Since then, opposition has repeatedly tried to obtain permission to hold similar gatherings, but always failed to receive official approval.