Russian media employees who are sick and tired of the incessant pro- and anti-government protests in Moscow have set up a Facebook group "Journalists Against Demonstrations" and are planning their own counter-event.
“After yet another demonstration we were back at our desks, exhausted. We began to understand how sick and tired we were of all these repetitive protest campaigns; sick and tired of running around in the street till late at night," Yelizaveta Surnachova, a correspondent for the Slon.ru web portal, told Business FM radio.
"So as a joke we set up the group; and as a joke, several of our colleagues supported the idea,” she said.
The group's motto is: “Let Journalists Return to Their Families!”
It includes correspondents from such respected news outlets as Vedomosti and Kommersant dailies, Ekho Moskvy radio and the Polit.ru and Gazeta.ru internet portals, Surnachova said.
The group is considering inviting riot police to their event. “Those guys must be sick and tired of the rallies for fair elections, for Putin or whatever else,” Surnachova added.
An unnamed employee of the Moscow City Government’s call center has allegedly approved of the idea, said Anton Alekseyev, one of the anti-demonstration protest’s masterminds.
Recent anti-government demonstrations in Moscow have taken a toll on city services, resulting in costs totaling about 3 million rubles ($102,000), a deputy mayor said in a report on Monday.
The report spans the mass rallies held in December 2011-March 2012, including two protests over Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory last week, Kommersant daily said.
Allegations of widespread fraud during December's parliamentary elections in favor of Putin's United Russia party sparked the biggest anti-government protests seen in Moscow since Soviet times. The protests continued after Putin won a landslide victory in the March 4 presidential polls. His victory has been recognized by foreign states, but Russian monitoring groups said the election saw "systematic" fraud.
Moscow's public services faced long delays because of the demonstrations and were forced to increase the number of employees during the rallies, Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov said in the report.
The report also mentions a pro-Putin rally on February 23, that is says held up a group of utility workers for 50 minutes.
Alexander Gorbenko, another deputy mayor who has been the principal negotiator with protest leaders, said the report "will be taken into account when negotiating future rallies," Kommersant said.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the leaders of the protest movement, dismissed Biryukov's report, saying demonstrators were "civilized" and had caused "minimal harm to Muscovites."
"Why doesn't the report say anything about traffic jams caused by the motorcades of top government officials? Aren't they an obstacle for the Emergencies Ministry and Moscow Gas?" the paper quoted opposition lawmaker Gennady Gudkov as saying.