Several disruptive protests against the disqualification of independent and opposition candidates from participating in the Sept. 8 State Duma elections have taken place in Moscow since July 14. Some of the protests have seen unprecedented participation, and others have been marked by violent police crackdowns and mass arrests. More demonstrations by civil rights and opposition groups are likely in the Russian capital and other cities ahead of the elections. Travelers should avoid all protests as a standard security precaution.

WorldAware is continuing to monitor the protests and offer advice to travelers in the country. 

 

Navigate to each of the alert updates:

Warning Alert | Aug. 28: Opposition activists to march in central Moscow, Russia, Aug. 31. Localized transport disruptions likely; clashes possible.

Warning Alert | Aug. 23Opposition groups reject authorities' permit requirements for Aug. 25 rally in Moscow, Russia. Unauthorized protests possible.

Informational Alert | Aug. 22LGBTQ activists to protest in Saint Isaac's Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Aug. 24. Localized disruptions, clashes possible.

Warning Alert | Aug. 21: Opposition activists to protest along Sakharov Avenue in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 25. Localized traffic disruptions likely; clashes possible.

Warning Alert | Aug. 20Activists to protest in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Aug, 22. Localized transport disruptions, isolated scuffles possible.


Warning Alert effective Aug. 28: Opposition activists to march in central Moscow, Russia, Aug. 31. Localized transport disruptions likely; clashes possible.

 

  • Event: Opposition rally
  • Location: Central Moscow 
  • Start Time/Date: 1400 Aug. 31
  • Impact: Localized transport disruptions; possible isolated clashes

 

Summary

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Opposition leaders have called for a march in central Moscow from 1400 Aug. 31. Participants will march from the Monument to Alexander Griboyedov to Pushkin Square via Sretensky, Rozhdestvesnsky, Petrovsky, and Strastnoy Boulevards. There is currently no information available on whether the march has been coordinated with local authorities. The purpose of the march is to protest the Central Electoral Commission's disqualification of numerous opposition and independent candidates from running in the Sept. 8 city council elections and demand freedom for those arrested during previous opposition rallies. Up to 100,000 demonstrators are expected to attend the rally. Around 50,000 people attended a previous related rally on Aug. 10.

Police will deploy to monitor the march on Aug. 31. Security forces are likely to attempt to disperse the march if it has not been authorized. Officers will not hesitate to use force if resisted. While bystanders are unlikely to be targeted, they could face a significant indirect physical threat. Associated crowd-control measures, including possible movement restrictions, could cause localized transport disruptions.


 

Background and Analysis

Moscow authorities had previously refused to approve an opposition rally along Tverskaya Street and Sakharov Avenue on Aug. 31. The Moscow court has recognized local authorities' decision to refuse to coordinate the opposition march as illegal, meaning the march could have certain pre-authorizations and could proceed without major incidents. Several disruptive protests against the disqualification of independent and opposition candidates have taken place in Moscow in recent weeks. The arrests of several high-profile opposition figures, including Alexei Navalny, have failed to quell the demonstrations. Moscow police detained more than 1,300 people at an unauthorized rally July 27, and a further 600 protesters at a related gathering Aug. 3. Moscow authorities have in recent weeks resorted to rejecting requests for rallies from the opposition, which resulted in a period of two weeks without protests. More demonstrations by civil rights and opposition groups are likely in the Russian capital and other cities ahead of regional elections which will take place on Sept. 8.

 

Advice

Exercise caution in central Moscow, Aug. 31. Plan alternate travel routes to avoid the announced march. Keep away from locations where crowds appear to be forming or security forces deploying. Leave the area at the first sign of any confrontation. Remain cooperative and courteous during any interactions with the security forces.


Warning Alert effective Aug. 23: Opposition groups reject authorities' permit requirements for Aug. 25 rally in Moscow, Russia. Unauthorized protests possible.

  • Event: Opposition protest
  • Location: Academician Sakharov Avenue 
  • Start Time/Date: 1400 Aug. 25
  • Impact: Potential traffic disruptions; possible clashes

 

Summary

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Leaders of the opposition Libertarian Party have rejected a requirement by Moscow municipal authorities concerning the venue of a planned Aug. 25 rally, leaving the status of the event unclear. City officials had originally agreed to grant a permit for the gathering authorizing up to 100,000 participants, provided it takes place at 9 Academician Sakharov Boulevard - an address located outside of the city's Garden Ring Road. Rally organizers, however, have insisted on demonstrating at 12 Sakharov Boulevard, located less than 500 meters (550 yards) away but inside the Garden Ring Road. Moscow authorities have refused to issue a permit for a demonstration at 12 Sakharov.

While party leaders have explicitly stated their refusal to hold the rally at the city-mandated venue, they have made no specific announcement canceling the event. Hence, organizers have essentially left their intentions unclear. The Libertarian Party and associated groups have a history of engaging in unauthorized protests. It is possible that activists may attempt to proceed with the demonstration despite lacking the required permit; such an action would almost certainly draw a swift police response, potentially resulting in clashes.

Security forces will move quickly to contain and disperse any unauthorized gatherings that may materialize in Moscow, Aug. 25. Officers will not hesitate to use force, including baton charges and tear gas, if resisted. Crowd-control measures associated with any such response operation, including possible movement restrictions, could cause localized transport disruptions.

 

Background and Analysis

The Libertarian Party had planned for the rally to take place 1400-1800 Aug. 25. The purpose of the gathering was to protest the Central Electoral Commission's disqualification of numerous opposition and independent candidates from running in the Sept. 8 city council elections. Organizers and authorities were expecting the event to draw significant crowds; around 50,000 people attended a previous related rally on Aug. 9.

A number of disruptive protests against the disqualification of independent and opposition candidates have taken place in Moscow in recent weeks. The arrests of several high-profile opposition figures, including Alexei Navalny, have so far failed to quell the demonstrations. Moscow police detained more than 1,300 people at an unauthorized rally July 27, and a further 600 protesters at a related gathering Aug. 3. More demonstrations by civil rights and opposition groups are likely in the Russian capital and other cities ahead of the Sept. 8 regional elections.


 

Advice

Exercise increased vigilance in Moscow, Aug. 25 - especially in the vicinity of Academician Sakharov Avenue. Keep away from popular protest venues in the city, as well as locations where crowds appear to be forming or security forces deploying. Leave the area at the first sign of any confrontation. Strictly heed the instructions of local authorities. Remain cooperative and courteous during any interactions with the security forces.


Informational Alert effective Aug. 22: LGBTQ activists to protest in Saint Isaac's Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Aug. 24. Localized disruptions, clashes possible.

 

  • Event: LGBTQ protest
  • Location: Saint Isaac's Square, Saint Petersburg 
  • Start Time/Date: 1600 Aug. 24
  • Impact: Heightened security, localized disruptions; possible clashes

 

Summary

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Members and supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community plan to protest in central Saint Petersburg against alleged police bias when investigating crimes against LGBTQ individuals. Participants will gather in Saint Isaac's Square from 1600. Dozens of people are likely to attend the event. It is not currently clear whether authorities have permitted the protest, but a similar rally Aug. 3 was not authorized, leading police to arrest 15 participants.

Additional police will deploy to the protest and may attempt to disperse participants, potentially resulting in violence and arrests. Heightened security measures may lead to localized transport disruptions.

 

Advice

Avoid the protest as a routine security precaution and to mitigate associated disruptions. Leave the area at the first sign of a confrontation. Do not attempt to photograph or film any clashes.


Warning Alert effective Aug. 21: Opposition activists to protest along Sakharov Avenue in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 25. Localized traffic disruptions likely; clashes possible.

 

  • Event: Opposition protest
  • Location: Academician Sakharov Avenue 
  • Start Time/Date: 1400 Aug. 25
  • Impact: Localized disruptions; possible isolated clashes

 

Summary

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Opposition activists will rally on Academician Sakharov Avenue in Moscow, 1400-1800 Aug. 25. The purpose of the gathering is to protest the Central Electoral Commission's disqualification of numerous opposition and independent candidates from running in the Sept. 8 city council elections. Municipal authorities have agreed to grant a permit for the event authorizing up to 100,000 participants, provided it takes place at Sakharov No. 9 - an address located outside of the city's Garden Ring Road. However, rally organizers from the Libertarian Party are insisting on gathering at Sakharov No. 12, located inside the Garden Ring Road. Around 50,000 people attended a previous related rally on Aug. 9.

While it as yet remains unclear which of the two addresses will ultimately serve as the rally venue, it is unlikely to make any significant practical difference in terms of local disruptions, given that the two locations are less than 500 meters (550 yards) apart. Police will deploy to monitor and facilitate the gathering on Aug. 25. Associated crowd-control measures, including possible movement restrictions, could cause localized transport disruptions. Security forces will move quickly to disperse any protest they deem to be too disruptive or which violates the permit restrictions; officers will not hesitate to use force, including baton charges and tear gas, if resisted.


 

Background and Analysis

A number of disruptive protests against the disqualification of independent and opposition candidates have taken place in Moscow in recent weeks. The arrests of several high-profile opposition figures, including Alexei Navalny, have so far failed to quell the demonstrations. Moscow police detained more than 1,300 people at an unauthorized rally July 27, and a further 600 protesters at a related gathering Aug. 3. More demonstrations by civil rights and opposition groups are likely in the Russian capital and other cities ahead of regional elections which will take place on Sept. 8.

 

Advice

Exercise caution in the vicinity of Academician Sakharov Avenue, Aug. 25. Plan alternate travel routes to avoid the announced demonstration. Keep away from locations where crowds appear to be forming or security forces deploying. Leave the area at the first sign of any confrontation. Remain cooperative and courteous during any interactions with the security forces.


Warning Alert effective Aug. 20: Activists to protest in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Aug, 22. Localized transport disruptions, isolated scuffles possible.

 

  • Event: Protest
  • Location: Cosmonauts Square, Sovetsky District 
  • Start Time/Date: 1900 Aug. 22
  • Impact: Increased security; localized disruptions; possible clashes

 

Summary

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Activists plan to protest in Krasnoyarsk, Aug. 22, to demand the resignation of the local governor. Participants will gather at 1900 on Cosmonauts Square (Skver Kosmonavtov) in Sovetsky District about 7 km (4.3 miles) northeast of the city center. Organizers expect about 5,000 people to attend, but an earlier related rally at the same location Aug. 1 drew slightly more than 2,000 participants.

The presence of large numbers of people and associated crowd-control measures will likely prompt localized public transport and traffic disruptions near Cosmonauts Square on the evening of Aug. 22, particularly on Prospekt Metallurgov. Although city officials have granted a permit for the event, police could move to disperse the gathering if any participants attempt to demonstrate in locations other than the approved venue, beyond the authorized time frame, or if authorities determine the rally to be disruptive.

 

Advice

Avoid the vicinity of the demonstration venue the evening of Aug. 22 as a routine security precaution and to mitigate the potential for disruption. Leave the area immediately at the first sign of a confrontation.


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