On January 30th at 14:30, the Smolny District Court will consider the complaints, submitted to appeal the St. Petersburg authorities’ refusal to allow a protest demonstration on January 19th. The appeal is challenging the illegal actions of the Committee on Questions Concerning the Legality, Safety and Law and Order, which violated the citizens’ constitutional right to hold protest demonstrations and every year continues to refuse to allow the rally to take place on January 19th. Meanwhile, a similar event in Moscow, in 2012, was allowed by the city’s authorities.
The appeal points out the impossibility in fulfilling the law’s requirements and submitting the notice between January 4th and January 9th, due to non-working, public holidays. Moreover, the date of the proposed event – January 19th – is the day Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova were murdered and subsequently, is the Remembrance Day. Therefore, holding a demonstration on a different day would not have coincided with the goals of the public event.
This year, organisers took all the possible steps to ensure the fulfillment of all requirements, but due to the contradiction in the legislation, authorities were able to reject them on formal grounds, without even considering the merits of the petition. It is obvious that such approach is inconsistent with the notification procedure of coordinating public events, the goal of which is to promote the realisation of the rights of citizens, including holding civil rallies. Thus, the rejection does not conform to the international norms and violates the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
The human rights organisation ADC “Memorial”, in the interests of indefinite range of persons, possibly future organisers and participants in public events, submitted a petition to the St. Petersburg Administration, requesting to clarify what notification procedure to hold a demonstration on January 19 do the officials consider correct. In examining the case, the court will also be presented with the evidence of annual rejections to hold a demonstration on January 19, including the petitions that are submitted every year, as well as with the testimony of the witnesses-organisers.