Moscow Officials Will Allow Neo-Nazis to March, But Not Political Opposition

(December 11, 2008)

Moscow city officials have granted the neo-Nazi group the Slavic Union (abbreviated "SS" in Russian) the right to march in the center of town on December 12, a public holiday, according to a December 10, 2008 report by the radio station Ekho Moskvy. SS leader Dmitry Demushkin announced that he and a few hundred of his followers received permission to march that day down Chistoprudny Boulevard, along with members of Russia's leading far-right party, the Movement Against Illegal Migration (DPNI), which has been linked to anti-migrant violence in the past, and the far-right Eurasian Youth Movement, which has used past marches as opportunities to chant antisemitic and racist slogans.

At the same time, Moscow officials denied Gary Kasparov's "Other Russia" coalition--Russia's leading opposition movement--permission to march in the center of town, instead granting them inconvenient, out of the way routes. This is a concession of sorts, since in the past Moscow police have violently dispersed "Other Russia" protests, as well as gay rights marches, or have stood passively by while far-right extremists attacked opposition marchers.

United Russia's youth movement, the Young Guards, was also granted permission to march. That organization has recently begun holding anti-migrant demonstrations in an obvious attempt by the Kremlin to exploit nationalist sentiment in order to deflect growing public discontent in the wake of the global financial crisis.

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