Protest for Freedom of Assembly in Russia
On October 31, in New York City, the organization Strategy 31 held a protest in front of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation, which is a stone’s throw from Central Park.
The organization seeks to see Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which calls allows for the freedom of Russians to assembly, protest and picket, be acknowledged and practiced in the Russian Federation.
The protest began simply, as representatives of the Circassian Diaspora as well as An Hour in the Caucasus supported the group by holding signs which proclaimed things such as “Strategy 31 Demand Freedom of Assembly in Russia” as well as posters with images of Russian journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered after exposing the cruelty of the Russian wars in Chechnya.
As the protest progressed, participants donned Putin and Medvedev masks and simulated an assault on the Statue of Liberty, who wore a sign that read “Freedom in Russia” around her neck. Other participants wore jackets reading “ОМОН,” which in the Russian, stands for Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniya, or Special Purpose Police Unit. The OMON is a presence known all too well in the Caucasus, especially Chechnya. These masked men simulated the arrest and beatings of several participants who were dressed as Russian journalists and human rights workers.
The largest sign at the protest read, “Russia-Yes, Putin-NO” and was prominently displayed in front of all of the protestors. These other various participants, dressed as prisoners, were led around in chains the whole time and ended the rally by breaking free and handcuffing the real criminal, Vladimir Putin. This turn of events was accompanied by a chant from the crowd which mirrored that large sign; “Russia-YES, Putin-NO!”
Some photos from the action:
*Text was written by Michael Capobianco for Waynakh Online and photos were taken by Natalia Pelevine