Russia: Moscow authorities refuse to allow Amnesty's Sochi protest

Amnesty International have condemned the Moscow authorities’ decision to block their planned Sochi protest against the lack of freedom of expression in Russia.

The authorities pulled the plug on the event due to be held on Monday, claiming the 15-strong picket would be “unsuitable for a public event” as “it would be impossible … to provide safety” for it.

The event was proposed to take place in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. Amnesty notified the Russian authorities of their plans, as required by Russian law, and even provided three alternative locations.

The Russian authorities failed to explain why the safety of 15 people could not be ensured and suggested that the action be held in a remote and quiet park in Khamovniki district.

Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, John Dalhuisen, said:

“Why have the authorities failed even to consider our proposed alternative sites? Presumably, the answer to this question lies in the actual aims of the picket which was intended to highlight the authorities’ intolerance of dissent

“It is true that the Moscow authorities have complied with the law but their suggestion that the picket should be held in one of Moscow’s least frequented parks reflects the state of freedom of expression and assembly in Russia today.

“We are disappointed by the authorities’ response, and we do not accept their explanation for the refusal. Our activists plan to appeal this decision.”

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