The 100th anniversary of International Women's Day in Russia: details of the forcibly dispersed feminist meeting at Novopushkinsky Park on 8th March
by Natasha Bitten of the activist group "Pro Feminism"
A meeting, which had been permitted and agreed upon with the Moscow government to mark International Women's Day, was dispersed by the authorities.
On March 8 2012 the political party Yabloko and a number of feminist and women's organisations gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day in Russia at Novopushkinsky Park, Moscow, Russia.
Shortly after the meeting opened, the police detained two members who had been distributing the self-published newspaper 'Volya' from 8th March. (In the newspaper were articles on the history of feminism, LGBT rights, and issues concerning domestic violence.)
After the detention of the newspaper distributers dozens of protesters headed to the police van to demand the release of the detainees. As a result of this the police detained about a dozen people carrying feminist flags and slogans.
The police attempted to close the meeting and threatened to detain the organizers.
Also attending the rally were known provocateurs and Orthodox activists (including the well-known Dmitry Tsorionov). They threw rotten eggs at the speakers and organisers of the rally, attempting to squirt urine over the protesters with medical syringes.
Unlike the protesters, who did not break the law, the provocateurs were able to leave the fenced territory allotted to the meeting with impunity.
According to as yet unconfirmed data, the police detained one Orthodox provocateur. This provocateur claimed that he had been assaulted, an ambulance was called, and no evidence of injury was found.
At the same time, the police detained about 15 peaceful protesters and took them to the police van. According to witnesses, the police threw several girls on to the pavement and kicked them.
The detainees were taken to the police station at Presnesnky. Sympathisers brought them fresh water, but the police denied them access to the detainees, so the activists made contact with a human rights orginisation.
One of the leaders of the rally, Tatiana Sukhareva, contacted well-known human rights activist Lev Ponomarev (leader of the movement 'Pro Human Rights') She told him the details of the manner in which the protesters had been detained (including the use of physical violence) and the barriers against delivering drinking water to the detainees. Ponomarev said that he would try and contact the duty prosecutor of Moscow.
Later a policeman claimed that one of the female protesters had kicked him in the groin. This put the girl in urgent need of a lawyer, because assaulting a police officer is a criminal offence.
While the police were detaining people a large group of Orthodox activists gathered around the police station. What exactly they wanted with the detainees was unclear.
UPDATE 9th March:
The detainees have now been released, but all will be summoned to court, and they will probably receive a fine of some description. One woman, however, who stands accused of kicking a policeman in the groin, is in need of financial support to pay for legal assistance, and witnesses to corroborate her story.