An anti-government protest later this week will be the last under the banner of Strategy 31, a civic movement bringing together human rights and opposition activists, a prominent anti-Kremlin activist said on Monday.
"We are planning to stage the last Strategy 31 protest [on March 31]," Lev Ponomarev, 69, said on his blog on the opposition website Grani.ru. "We will not be holding rallies on the 31st day of each month any longer."
Strategy 31 emerged two years ago to defend Russia's much-abused Constitution and particularly Article 31, which guarantees the right to public protest.
Ponomarev, who leads the For Human Rights movement, said the decision was taken because of a growing rift within the opposition. The row between Strategy 31 co-organizers Lyudmila Alexeyeva - traditionally seen as a more neutral figure - and radical political rebel Eduard Limonov erupted ahead of the October 31 protest over the numbers permitted to attend.
Last week, Alexeyeva agreed to a cap of 3,000 people at a rally on downtown Pushkinskaya Square on March 31. Limonov was not granted permission to hold a separate rally on Triumfalnaya Square, the favored protest spot of the opposition.
"The idea behind the protests has changed," Ponomarev said. "I think it's silly to call for free assembly at a rally that has been authorized."
But the scale-back does not mean an end to opposition protests in Moscow, Ponomarev said, adding that rallies would still be held "on a regular basis."
MOSCOW, March 28 (RIA Novosti)