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Cablegate: "Other Russia" Stand-Off with Nizhniy Novogorod

VZCZCXRO2750
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1240/01 0811633
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221633Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8489
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3900
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1999
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2298

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001240

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/RUS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: "OTHER RUSSIA" STAND-OFF WITH NIZHNIY NOVOGOROD
AUTHORITIES OVER MARCH CONTINUES

REF: A. 06 MOSCOW 12981

B. ST. PETERSURG 50

MOSCOW 00001240 001.2 OF 002


-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) "Other Russia's" plans to stage the third in its
series of marches, this time in Nizhniy Novgorod on March 24,
appeared March 22 to be bumping up against much the same kind
of problems it had encountered in earlier efforts in Moscow
and St. Petersburg. This time around, local law enforcement
and the city authorities have reportedly confiscated "Other
Russia" literature, questioned some of the organizers,
organized a conflicting event at the same site, and spread
misleading information about the nature of the march. For
their part, march organizers have rejected the meeting site
offered by the city, allegedly on ideological/esthetic
grounds and continue to include in their coalition an
organization, Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party,
whose guerrilla theater tactics have attracted particular
police scrutiny. End summary.

---------------
City Overreacts
---------------

2. (SBU) "Other Russia's" attempt to stage the third in its
"March of Those Who Disagree" series on March 24 in Nizhniy
Novgorod seemed, as of March 22, to be getting much the same
reception as its two predecessors on March 3 in St.
Petersburg and on December 16, 2006, in Moscow (reftels).
Representatives of the Department for Combating Extremism
confiscated 60 thousand copies of the second edition of a
newspaper intended to advertise the march. (At least part of
the first edition was distributed without incident.) March
organizers have allegedly been told that the examination of
the second edition for evidence of extremism would not be
completed until after the date of the march.

3. (SBU) Accompanying the confiscation of the newspaper,
according to Oksana Chelysheva of the Nizhniy Novgorod
Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), have been visits
to the apartments of march organizers, questioning of the
director of the company who printed the newspaper and its
publishers, and of the Kommersant Nizhniy Novgorod journalist
who wrote articles about march-related events. Chelysheva
reported that RCFS offices are being watched by uniformed
police.

4. (SBU) It is also alleged that the city administration is
attempting to undercut the march by concurrently holding a
street carnival, which normally takes place on "city day" in
September, and by hurriedly undertaking repair work on the
main street of the march's proposed route. Also in the
city's bag of tricks, according to media reports, has been
advertising alleging that the march is to be undertaken in
defense of homosexuals.

------------------
March Organizers
Reject Compromise
on "Moral Grounds"
------------------

5. (SBU) According to Chelysheva and to media reports, the
city had attempted to accommodate the March in negotiations
preceding the current controversy. During the course of that
conversation, according to Chelysheva, Deputy Mayor
Gladyshev, noted that the proposed route would take marchers
through the city's commercial, pedestrian area, and he
worried about possible damage. He told organizers he would
like impose a blanket ban on all rallies in the pedestrian
area. The City Administration offered march organizers an
opportunity to stage its event on Lenin Square one of the
city's gathering points. The organizers refused on "moral
grounds." Mayor Vadim Bulavinov described the "no" as a
"provocation, designed to make march organizers seem like
martyrs." The organizers' appeal of the city's decision was
rejected by the Nizhniy Novgorod district court on late
afternoon, March 22.

-------
Comment
-------

MOSCOW 00001240 002.2 OF 002

6. (SBU) As was the case in St. Petersburg and, to a lesser
extent, Moscow, the Nizhniy Novgorod event features
overreaction by the city authorities and an unwillingness to
compromise on the party of the march's organizers. Press
reports suggest that the City Administration is unnerved,
above all by Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party.
Nizhniy Communist Party local deputy Nikolay Ryabov told the
local press that he has been fined only twice when he has
staged rallies in the city. On both occasions, it was when
he invited the National Bolsheviks to participate. The
presence of Limonov's organization in "Other Russia" has
caused a number of politicians and organizations --among them
the Yabloko national organization-- to refrain from
affiliating themselves with "Other Russia." Events like the
March 15 detention of National Bolsheviks for their possible
role in explosions at Moscow State University will likely
only reinforce the tendency of some to distance themselves
from "Other Russia"-sponsored activities, and the proclivity
of some authorities to take a harder line.
BURNS

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