Prime minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin on Tuesday supported the decision of Moscow’s City Hall to move a rally of his supporters away from the Kremlin.
“I think we’ve got to respect Muscovites and events that involve closure of main roads, highways and metro stations, without a doubt put a serious strain on them,” Putin said at a meeting with heads of leading Russian colleges in Moscow.
Putin’s campaign staff for the presidential elections on March 4 are co-staging a rally in his support on February 23. The organizers wanted 200,000 to march down the downtown Tverskaya Ulitsa to a rally on Manezh Square outside the Kremlin but the City Hall said the event should be moved to another venue and attendance capped at 100,000.
Moscow authorities have often denied political opposition preferred routes for their rallies in the past decade but pro-government events have rarely encountered such problems. Organizers of an anti-Putin rally on February 4, which attracted tens of thousands, had to hold several rounds of tense negotiations with the City Hall before agreeing on a venue.
February 23 falls on the same week as Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, a seven-day religious and folk holiday marked by public festivities.