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Activists Continue To Support Russian Hunger Strikers, Officials Slam Protest
Interfax - 4.16.12 - JRL 2012-71

Activists in Moscow and other regions continued to show support on 16 April for a group of hunger strikers in Astrakhan led by local politician Oleg Shein, who have been protesting since 16 March against the result of the city's mayoral election. Shein, leader of the regional branch of A Just Russia, came second in the poll but he and his supporters insist that it was rigged. Pro-Kremlin activists and officials, however, took the opportunity to criticize the hunger strike and a rally held in support of Shein's cause that was held in Astrakhan on 14 April.

Oleg Shein File Photo
file photo
In Moscow leader of the Left Front opposition movement Sergey Udaltsov reported that police had stepped up their presence outside the offices of Russian news website Svobodnaya Pressa where opposition activists are holding a hunger strike in support of those striking in Astrakhan.

"A whole delegation of police from Krasnoselskiy interior department and the internal affairs directorate for Moscow's central district has just visited the office of the Svobodnaya Pressa publishers. They made a list of all of the hunger strikers' (personal) information and warned us that in the event of any unauthorized actions they will take appropriate action," Udaltsov told corporate-owned Interfax news agency on 16 April, adding that he does not understand the increased police activity. He said that the police have left the office but a police bus and patrol car have been posted outside the building.

"Possibly this is connected with the previously planned meeting with Oleg Shein which had to be postponed until tomorrow morning," he said.

Udaltsov recalled that currently 10 people are taking part in the hunger strike in Moscow as a sign of solidarity with Shein and the other hunger strikers; he added that the protesters are planning to change venue this week.

"Weather permitting, we will move to a central square or some establishment of state power. Our event will last indefinitely," Udaltsov said.

Saratov, Tomsk, Volgograd

The Saratov association of voters adopted an open letter in support of Shein and the other participants in the hunger strike, Interfax reported on 16 April.

"Bearing in mind the numerous electoral falsifications, among others in Saratov Region, we are sure that it is possible to overcome violations at elections by the authorities only with the most active public actions. Only a strict, consolidated and public position by citizens towards election falsifications, their organizers and sponsors is capable of repelling the desire to break the law," the association said in the letter.

An authorized picket in support of Shein was held by opposition activists in Tomsk on the same day.

According to the press service of the regional internal affairs directorate, 18 people took part in the event. The organizers, however, reported around 40 picketers.

"We did not set ourselves the task of gathering lots of people; we took part in the picket in order to support Oleg Shein," head of the regional branch of the A Just Russia party Galina Nemtseva told Interfax.

In Volgograd the For Fair Elections public movement is planning to hold authorized pickets in support of t