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    Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, said she will not participate in the Strategy-31 rallies due to poor health.

    Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, said she will not participate in the Strategy-31 rallies due to poor health.

    Russian opposition groups rally on Triumfalnaya Square on the last day of each month that has 31 days in defense of their right to freedom of assembly, as enshrined in Article 31 of the Russian Constitution.

    Despite never receiving permission to demonstrate on the square, the organizers reject alternative venues put forward by the city authorities and the unsanctioned rallies often end in clashes with police.

    "I am 83 years old. Last time I understood how difficult it is for me to come and every time it gets more difficult," Alexeyeva told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

    The elderly human rights activist left Triumfalnaya Square on Tuesday, August 31, the last time the opposition rally was held, saying the conditions were "impossible" as the area was too crowded due to the square's reconstruction.

    The Moscow government fenced off the square in mid-August as it goes ahead with plans to build an underground car park.

    "There was a very narrow space left, where it was almost impossible to stand. It was jammed, so I left the square almost immediately," she told journalists afterward.

    She vowed, however, to continue her human rights activity.

    "I am the chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group and I will continue my work," she said.

    An active rally participant and a 2009 winner of the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, Alexeyeva was arrested by Moscow police on December 31 together with other human rights activists during one of the protests.

    This drew strong criticism in Russia and abroad. The president of the European Parliament, which awards the Sakharov Prize, urged the Russian authorities to release the prominent human rights activist.

    MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) 

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