Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Pro-government hecklers drown out Khodorkovsky rally
The partisans of jailed oligarch were muffled by soccer horns. The activists from the movement "We Are with Khodorkovsky!" and "For Human Rights" tried yesterday to have a demonstration of support for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. Despite the fact that action was sanctioned by the authorities, it was interrupted by the young activists from "Eurasian Youth Union." The human rights activists claim that they were interrupted by the members of state sponsored "United" movement. Their opponents rejected the claims and called themselves simply "politically active youth."
The demonstration, organized by the movements "We Are With Khodorkovsky!" and "For Human Rights", started about 6 p.m. Approximately 100 people gathered next to A. Pushkin monument and put up the posters with slogans like "Scoundrel Authorities - Scoundrel Decisions!," and "Better to be in jail than to be humiliated by the scum!" In the mean time, the young people in white t-shirts with lettering "Khodorkovsky to jail!" started to assemble in the other side of the monument. "We gathered here to express our solidarity with political prisoners Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev before the court hearings on Sep.14," Ivan Felyushin, activist of the movement "We Are with Khodorkovsky!', told Kommersant. Then, he took a worrying look to another side of the fence, where the young people in white t-shirts started to form the row. When Lev Ponomarev, head of the movement "For Human Rights," tried to open the demonstration with a speech, the youth in other side started forcefully to blow the horns, which are widely use by soccer fans during the matches. Despite the amplification equipment, the noise was so loud that only activists who were standing within three yards of the Ponomarev could hear him.
When Yuri Samodurov, Director of Sakharov Museum, came up to the microphone, he was immediately interrupted by two young men, who pushed themselves into the crowd screaming: "Khodorkovsky needs to be finished in outhouse!"
This is apparently a reference to one of Putin's statements concerning Chechnya: he vowed to 'rub out the bandits in the crapper.'
"The same colors of t-shirts and the same flags are signs that these people are associated with authorities," Alexei Sidelnikov, activist of "It's time!" movement, told Kommersant. "It is time!" had also participated in pro-Khodorkovsky demonstration. "Most likely the organizers of this hooligan act are the youth movement "United". It is against the law, anyway, and we will sue," Sidelnikov complained. “We got the permission papers earlier," Alexei, the leader of the anti-Khodorkovsky demonstration, said. "So our meeting is perfectly legal." "We got two papers with permissions several days before. For that reason the both actions are legal “the police officer, who was guarding the demonstration, told Kommersant. He refused to give his name.