After the Moscow authorities rejected an application for an opposition rally on February 26, the For Fair Elections movement announced it would stage a flash mob on Sunday, a co-organizer of the opposition protests and the head of the Left Front movement, Sergei Udaltsov, said on Tuesday.
“We failed to reach an agreement [with Moscow City Hall]…The demonstration organizers decided that the Feb 26 protest will be held in the form of a flash mob, a public gathering supported by State Duma deputies who will ensure safety,” Udaltsov said, adding that the venue for the flash mob is Revolution Square near the Kremlin walls.
Also on Sunday, the opposition is planning a separate protest event, the White Circle, which will feature 34,000 people joining hands along the entire 16-kilometer length of the circular Garden Ring road in central Moscow to “encircle the Kremlin.”
Sunday’s opposition protests will coincide with the last day of the folk holiday Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, which celebrates the end of winter with street festivities featuring lots of pancake cooking, eating and the burning of winter's effigy.
Udaltsov proposed bringing to the protest white objects - as symbols of opposition movement - and homemade “effigies of Russia's political winter.”
Anti-government protests in Russia were triggered by parliamentary elections in December, which were marred by allegations of widespread vote rigging. The protesters demanded a repeat election. The government ignored that demand but did launch sweeping reforms aimed at liberalizing the political system.
A pro-governmental rally will take place in downtown Moscow on February 23. Organizers said up to 200,000 will attend, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “did not rule out” that he may show up, his spokesman said on Thursday.
A previous pro-Kremlin event on February 4 gathered between 80,000 and 140,000, according to various estimates, although media reports claim many were state employees forced to attend.