Russian March 2020 in Moscow
In Moscow, four competing nationalist organizing committees were involved in preparations for the 4th of November marches, but none of them managed to secure permits from the mayor’s office due to restrictions on mass events imposed due to the epidemiological situation. As a result, the nationalists resorted to less traditional formats.
Laying flowers at the public office of the Federal Penitentiary Service near Tsvetnoy Bulvar metro station
This ceremony was carried out by the organizing committee of the Nationalists’ Movement (a new organization headed by Vladimir Basmanov, which includes activists from the banned Nation and Freedom Committee (KNS), several minor regional groups, and the Association of Popular Resistance (ANS)).
Initially, “Russian Lives Matter” was announced as the event slogan and its purpose was to commemorate nationalist Maxim Martsinkevich, who died in prison, and other far-right individuals whom nationalists consider to be victims of torture or “extrajudicial executions”. In addition to Martsinkevich, this category includes many members of neo-Nazi groups who died in various circumstances over the course of several years.
After it became clear that no permit would be granted, the event was announced to be going ahead without permit by way of laying flowers at the public office of the Federal Penitentiary Service. Participants were encouraged to wear black and bring portraits of dead nationalists and flowers. The meeting time was set at 14:00 inside the Tsvetnoy Bulvar metro station. On the morning of November 4, SMS and voice messages were sent out inviting people to join the event.
Around 14:00, participants began to converge on the Tsvetnoy Bulvar and Trubnaya metro stations, some with flowers, some wearing imperial scarves and badges with imperial symbols. According to the observers of the Sova Center, about 50 people gathered inside the metro stations by the time the event was scheduled to begin.
Almost immediately, the police demanded that the participants disperse and began to make arrests right at the exit from the metro. According to OVD-Info, at least 32 people were detained there. Those who managed to avoid being thrown into avtozaks (about 15 people) moved towards the building of the Federal Penitentiary Service, where, according to OVD-Info, two more were detained. None of the demonstrators managed to lay flowers.
After the demonstration, following the call of the Nationalists’ Movement representatives, some of the activists walked over to the Tverskoy police station, where the detained had been taken. Two ANS members and a passerby were consequently detained there. A young woman was detained outside the Moscow Police Headquarters (GUVD).
Demonstration “Russian March Cannot Be Banned”
Another organizing committee, which for several years has been competing with ANS and KNS for holding Russian March in Lyublino, united this year representatives of the Third Alternative (TA) / Right Bloc (PB), the Institute for National Policy (INP), and the Russian Human Rights League. When the approval for the March was refused in late October, the head of the INP, Ivan Beletsky, announced that their organizing committee would try and hold unauthorized protests in Moscow, “including along the route of the March in Lyublino”, under the slogan “Russian March cannot be prohibited!”. However, these protests failed to be organized due to a split within the organizing committee. On November 3, having received warnings from the Prosecutor’s office about the unacceptability of unauthorized demonstrations, the organizers announced that the Third Alternative/Right Bloc was not intending to hold any events.
As a result, at noon on November 4, large numbers of law enforcement officers were deployed to and only a few nationalists arrived in Lyublino. Two people were detained, while other participants lingered in confusion around the metro station a little more and left, some of them heading to Tsvetnoy Boulevard.
“Procession March” in Kolomenskoye
This demonstration was organized by the third organizing committee, which included representatives of the Permanent Council of National-Patriotic Forces of Russia (PDS NPSR) and their affiliated groups. This year PDS NPSR initially announced that the March would commemorate Maxim Martsinkevich, who is known here as “the Russian Warrior, martyred by the regime”, and the main slogans would be “Russian March against ‘medical’ terror”, “March in the memory of Maxim Martsinkevich (Tesak)”, and “For spiritual and physical health of the nation”.
After the Moscow authorities refused to approve the March in late October, the organizers decided to change the format and arrange a Procession March instead (essentially, to hold Russian March under the guise of a procession). Participants were told to gather at 14:00 in Kolomenskoye Park near The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan. The theme had been changed: Martsinkevich’s name was not mentioned, and the main theme of the rally was the protest against coronavirus measures, including chip implantation, vaccination, mask wearing, remote learning for school kids, etc.
By the scheduled meeting time, about 250 people with icons and crosses gathered in Kolomenskoye; no symbols of the nationalist organizations were visible. There were few speeches, but the participants were quite willing to give interviews and spoke, in addition to the above, about the dangers of 5G networks and about how Christians ought to hate global evil and fight it.
At the very beginning of Procession March, several law enforcement officers warned the participants about its illegality but did not make any attempts at detaining them. The procession went around all the churches in the Park and was concluded without any detentions.