What are the political parties doing?
The Communists have scored a bit of a coup by gaining permission to hold their rally at the prized Manezh Square in the centre of Moscow. Pro-Putin supporters had also requested permission to rally there, and eyebrows were raised when the Moscow authorities approved the pro-Communist rally ahead of the pro-Putin rally. The Communists’ cause was probably helped by only asking for permission for 5,000 people, whereas the pro-Putin organisers asked for permission for 200,000 people to cram into the centre of Moscow.
The pro-Putin rally is split into two parts. First, permission has been given for 40,000 people to march to the Luzhniki Sports Complex. Secondly, permission has also been granted for a 100,000 strong static rally at the sports complex itself.
A Just Russia and the Liberal Democrats have also applied to hold rallies in central Moscow on 23 February and, although not yet formally approved, it seems unlikely that they will be blocked. An organisation called Essence of Time has also applied for a permit to hold a 15,000 strong rally, which is expected to be pro-Government in nature.
And the independents?
For Fair Elections don’t seem to be planning a formal rally as such. Instead, they have a couple of interesting plans. The first, planned for 19 February, is a car-based protest which will involve people putting white ribbons on their cars and driving around their city, presumably in a pre-defined route.
The second is the intriguing idea of creating a human chain around the Kremlin on Sunday 26 February. The organisers think that this will need more than 30,000 people and, surprisingly, Moscow officials are indicating that this won’t require official permission.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the only independent rally in the Presidential race doesn’t seem to have a formal rally planned, as far as I can see.