Moscow denies permit for March 5 opposition rally

There are several things Russians know. First, Vladimir Putin will win the presidential election. Call it fore-ordination or whatever you’d like, but he will win. Second, opposition groups have been emboldened since December and will protest the voting results. Third, Vladimir Putin as president is likely to take a dimmer view on opposition rallies than out-going president Dmitry Medvedev.

So predictably, Moscow city officials have denied opposition requests to hold a rally at Manezh Square on March 5, one day after the presidential vote. Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov said Tuesday that permission had been denied for a Manezh Square rally, likely because the Square is next to the Kremlin.

Opposition leader and anti-corruption lawyer/blogger Alexei Navalny posted on his blog that demonstrators should gather at Moscow’s Lubyanskaya Plaza on March 5 despite the refusal of a permit by city officials. Lubyanka is the site of the old KGB headquarters and prison and today is home to the FSB, the successor to the KGB.

Moscow City Hall has offered a couple of alternative locations outside the city centre, one being Poklonnaya Gora the site of Moscow’s popular “Victory Park” and the scene of a pro-Putin rally recently.

In the final week leading up to Sunday’s vote there seems to be no end to the social media campaigning from both sides as witnessed on this YouTube video.


Last minute online election campaigning in Russia

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin isn’t that comfortable on a computer so it is no surprise that he is leaving the Social media campaigning to out-going president Dmitry Medvedev. Mr. Medvedev is younger and much more comfortable around technology.

You can imagine the surprise for an American journalist to be “spammed” in last minute election campaigning as Sunday’s election draws closer. Well, it says it isn’t spam but it really is. Rather than being upset, we’re wondering if this is a sign that I’m being more accepted as a “Russian” man? To be included in an election message is pretty cool.

Message: My friend (Vladimir Putin nickname) is involved in the election on March 4. Really need your vote. This is not spam.

Millions of Russians on and other social sites received this message. Your faithful editor/publisher is not a citizen so I won’t be voting but send a thank you for each Russian citizen who accepts his/her duty in making a choice, no matter the candidate.

With “forgiveness Sunday” behind us, the Orthodox Pashka fast is here!

There are two 40-day fasts in the ancient Christian calendar; the Nativity Fast before Christmas and the “Pashka” (Greek word meaning Easter) Fast prior to Easter. Right now we eat no meat, no eggs/poultry, no cheese/milk, no oil, etc.

Only fish on Wednesdays but everything else is vegetables & fruits only. Here are “ladybug” sandwiches for raw fish on Wednesday. Remembering that usually a “sandwich” in Eastern Europe and Asia is a single piece of bread, these sandwiches are very easy to make.

You will need: Bread, red fish (salmon, trout, etc), tomatoes, olives pitted, Parsley.

– Separate the red fish from the bones and skin, cut into thin slices.
– Cover with a piece of fish.
– Take the tomatoes, cut them in half, lengthwise.
– Make a ladybug’s head with black olives, cut in half.
– Spots for the ladybug are from tiny pieces of chopped olives.

For those who missed “forgiveness Sunday” here is our message from the Mendeleyev Journal: прощаю и ты меня за всё прости! (I forgive you and ask you to forgive me.)

Medvedev’s Swan Song

Special Report: Medvedev’s Swan Song

(The Moscow Times: Vladimir Ryzhkov)

A week ago, I took part in an unprecedented meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev at his residence at Gorki. This was the first time that he met with 10 representatives of the so-called “nonsystemic” parties — those that were denied registration on politically motivated grounds. Four of those present — Parnas co-founder Boris Nemtsov, Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, Russian People’s Union head Sergei Baburin and myself — had taken part in the street protests on Bolotnaya Ploshchad and Prospekt Akademika Sakharova.

There is no doubt that Medvedev’s decision to meet with opposition leaders and his sincere desire to listen to our demands was a result of the large-scale street protests in December and February. Most significant, Medvedev left the impression that he shared many of the protesters’ views.

Medvedev suggested that he would support a constitutional amendment limiting the president to a total of no more than two terms in office, that he is personally opposed to using a “presidential filter” in gubernatorial elections, that he is not against multiparty political blocs in elections and that he is willing to acknowledge that there are political prisoners in the country — something that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has always denied.

What’s more, Medvedev introduced four bills to the Duma that would bring major changes to political and electoral institutions. The three most important of those bills would ease the rules for registering political parties, return direct gubernatorial elections and introduce new procedures for electing State Duma deputies.

Medvedev is sympathetic toward Russians who have taken part in peaceful protests. Moreover, he considers their actions to be part of a larger pro-democracy movement stretching from North Africa to Eurasia. Medvedev would also like to establish independent public television in the country and to hold more popular referendums on key issues, primarily at the local and regional levels.

Medvedev opposes any attempt to marginalize the mainstream opposition. He agrees with protesters’ claims that the new Duma does not reflect the country’s entire political spectrum. He also said that if they were represented, there would be less cause for protests.

To be sure, there were disappointments, as well.

Read more here.
(From the Moscow Times: Author Vladimir Ryzhkov was a State Duma deputy from 1993 to 2007, hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio and is a co-founder of the opposition Party of People’s Freedom.)

Ukrianian President Yanukovich jails Yuri Lutsenko, another key opponent

(OPINION, but a pretty damned good one at that.)

Two down and we expect more to go. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich seems intent on jailing anyone who might challenge him in the next election as a Kyiv (Kiev) court sentenced Yuri Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former interior minister, to four years in prison for charges of embezzlement and abuse of office. Lutsenko was considered by some as a future challenger to Yanukovich.

Members of Ukraine's press attempt to cover the "trial."

In October former prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko was given a seven-year sentence. Tymoshenko almost beat Yanukovich in the 2010 election and was seen by the Yanukovich as the first opponent to prosecute given her popularity and potential of challenging the former-convicted-criminal-with-known-mafia-ties-turned-president in upcoming elections.

Human rights organizations have continued to warn of a growing rollback of democratic freedoms under the Yanukovich presidency and the Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights issued a statement saying: “Whatever sentence will be passed in the Lutsenko case it is not the result of a fair trial in a legal system respecting the rule of law and basic human rights principles.”

Members of Ukraine's press cover the Yuri Lutsenko "trial."

President Yanukovich, despite his past prison sentences and long ties to the Ukrainian mafia, says that his administration is waging a crackdown on corruption. That would be quite a feat given his background! Justice from the Yanukovich administration? What a joke as just recently the son of a high ranking official in the Yanukovich administration was given a suspended sentence for murder.

So, President Yanukovich, who is next?

Sunday Moscow protest circled around Moscow Centre

Police counters say that no more than 10,000 anti-Putin protesters were out on Sunday but more knowledgeable experts say that a minimum of 34,000 persons would be needed to form a human chain around Moscow Centre and that was accomplished Sunday as Russian voters prepare for next week’s presidential election on 04 March.

Protesters appeared side by side in what is estimated as a 16-km (approximately 10-mile) circle around the Moscow Garden Ring Road as snow fell on Sunday. Most of them wore the familiar white ribbons that have come to symbolize the biggest opposition protests since Putin rose to power 12 years ago.

While most observers say that Mr. Putin will be declared the winner, more and more citizens feel the election result may not be fair. Some of the Sunday protesters held blown-up condoms – mocking Putin who had claimed he mistook the white ribbons for condoms.

Defender of the Fatherland Day, part 2

Recap: Feb 23rd was Russia’s “Defender of the Fatherland Day” and President Dmitry Medvedev honoured Russia’s fallen soldiers by laying the presidential wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

President Dmitry Medvedev at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The wreath-laying ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, heads of other ministries and departments, Great Patriotic War veterans and members of the public.

President Dmitry Medvedev at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

In Russia the tomb of the unknown soldier (Могила Неизвестного Солдата) is dedicated to soldiers killed during the Great Patriotic War (World War II) and is located near the Kremlin’s Alexander Gardens outside the Kremlin Walls in Moscow. The monument was dedicated to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the battle (December 1966), introduced to the public on 08 May 1967.

President Dmitry Medvedev at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The remains of the unknown soldiers killed in the Battle of Moscow (1941) were taken from a mass grave at the 41st km marker of the Leningrad highway at the city of Zelenograd, the closest point Nazi armies came to Moscow during that war.