MOSCOW, January 17 (Sputnik) — Moscow authorities have decided not to approve a march planned in protest of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, saying that it might lead to "provocations", head of the Department of Regional Security Alexei Mayorov told RIA Novosti on Saturday.
On Thursday, the Moscow Mayor's Office received a request for a rally to be held in Moscow later this month, with the participation of up to 100,000 people. In Mayorov's words, the organizers had explained that the rally would be aimed at "protesting publications which offend religious feelings."
Mayorov said that after a careful study of the organizers and the public organizations planning the event, the Mayor's Office found that the organizers of the planned meeting were residents of Makhachkala, Dagestan, and that "the Moscow [Muslim] diaspora and Moscow religious organizations expressed no intention to carry out such an event."
Mayorov further noted that "we have come to the conclusion that, apparently, those citizens sought to organize some sort of provocation in the city. As a result, we denied them the right to carry out the event."
Muslim rights activist Ali Charinsky had earlier told Russian business newspaper Kommersant that the event organizers had hoped that people of all confessions would come out to support the rally. "This newspaper has insulted Christians as well, and therefore we feel that this rally is in defense of the feelings of all believers." Charinsky told Govorit Moskva that the organizers would not attempt to provoke the authorities if their requests are denied. "We will continue to try to explain to public leaders and especially to the media what our concept of holiness is, and [our feeling] that it's incorrect to cross this line via the idea of freedom of speech."
Rallies against the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed are set to be carried out in Makhachkala, Dagestan on Sunday and on Monday in Grozny, Chechnya. Protests were held in the Republic of Ingushetia on Saturday.
On Friday, Russia's federal communications agency Roskomnadzor requested Russian media not to show religious caricature imagery which may be perceived to humiliate people of faith or incite ethnic hatred.