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Moscow government authorizes 24 December's 50,000-strong poll protest - RIA Novosti - 12.14.11 - JRL 2011-224-1

MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti)-Opposition activists have been allowed to hold a 50,000-strong rally on Saturday 24 December on Sakharov Avenue north from Moscow's Garden Ring to protest against the alleged election fraud during December 4 parliamentary elections, a member of the A Just Russia party, Ilya Ponomarev said in his Twitter blog.

The organizers of the protest For Fair Elections submitted three possible venues for the protest to the City Hall: Sakharov Avenue, Vasilyevsky Spusk and Manezhnaya Square on either side of the Kremlin.

"City Hall said that we are not allowed to stage a rally at the Vasilyevsky Spusk and Manezhnaya Square because these sites had already been booked...We haven't been told who has booked them," the news web site Gazeta.ru quoted Ponomarev as saying.

Earlier Matvei Dzen from a nationalist organization said in his blog that they had also requested all three places for their own demonstration on December 24.

However, the Slavic Union head Dmitry Dyomushkin said that the city's officials had dismissed the nationalists' request.

As the city's government approves the 50,000-strong rally, one of the opposition leaders, Vladimir Ryzhkov, said on his Facebook page that the opposition's task is to attract "no less than 300,000 people."

Almost 19,000 people have so far registered for the For Fair Elections rally on the organizers' Facebook page.

Last Saturday, the opposition held the biggest authorized protest in a decade at Moscow's Bolotnaya Square that brought together tens of thousands of people, demanding a rerun of December's parliamentary elections allegedly marred by massive fraud and ballot stuffing.

Demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud in favor of the ruling United Russia also took place across the country, from the European exclave of Kaliningrad to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. Some 7,000 people also rallied on Saturday in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg.