The police disrupted the All-Russian Congress of Municipal Deputies (“Zemsky Congress”), which was to be held on May 22-23 in Veliky Novgorod. The participants were accused of non-compliance with the fresh antiquated decree of the governor of the Novgorod region of May 18, which prohibited any private public events of more than 30 people, two were detained for disobeying the police. Participants believe that the forum was disrupted for political reasons. In the adjacent hall of the hotel, where the convention was held, a crowded wedding was taking place during interrogation, but the police did not detain the guests of the newlyweds, citing the fact that entertainment was not prohibited.
The Zemsky Congress was to be held at the AMAKS Hotel Russia in the center of Veliky Novgorod on May 22 and 23. The congress was organized by the former municipal deputy of the Moscow region “Timiryazevsky”, oppositionist Yulia Galyamina. The congress was announced in advance. However, on May 18, the head of the Novgorod region, Andrei Nikitin, unexpectedly tightened anti-coronavirus measures in the region. By his decree, he banned meetings, meetings, hearings, conferences, seminars and “other similar events” with the participation of more than 30 people.
Despite this, the organizing committee of the congress was optimistic: it announced an additional collection of donations to rent a second hall in the same hotel, so that each of them could accommodate less than 30 people.
The money was collected, the hall was rented. The organizers did not even let the journalists into the meeting, so as not to exceed the number and certainly not to violate the governor’s decree.
The journalists were allowed into the hall in turns for 10-15 minutes. The congress turned out to be small: as Yulia Galyamina’s assistant Nikolai Kasyan told Kommersant, there were 25 delegates in the big hall, and 12 in the small one.
The congress began, as planned, at two o’clock in the afternoon, but after 40 minutes, before the deputies began to discuss issues on the merits, police appeared at the door of one of the halls. There were about the same number of them as there were delegates to the congress – the Kommersant correspondent counted about 30 uniformed employees.
The journalists watched what was happening inside on a live broadcast, which the deputies conducted from the hall. The police counted the participants and announced that they were going to interview them. The organizers were not going to stop the congress and continued to speak. In response, the police drew up two protocols of disobedience to the police (19.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code of the Russian Federation) – against Yulia Galyamina and the St. Petersburg deputy Vitaly Bovar. Mrs. Galyamina was taken out of the hotel first to the screams of the audience.
“The whole country will now see how the police violate the rights of harmless deputies,” she told reporters. “In Russia, it is important and necessary to engage in politics. Russia will be free only when peaceful people like me come to power. ” In response, the audience chanted: “Julia! Julia!”.
When Mrs. Yulia Galyamina was put into a police car, some of the journalists, including the Kommersant correspondent, were able to go inside together with the police. There was an exclamation of “Press, ****!”
The path to the halls, where the congress participants remained locked, passed through a wide room decorated for the celebration of the wedding – there were already tables with snacks and a table with the initials of the newlyweds. “Young people, can you walk across the street?” – the waitresses asked the police officers with displeasure. The crowd of police marched on in silence, kicking the sparkling floor of the banquet hall with their feet. When they left, the waiters locked the doors, and soon loud music and the cheerful speech of the hired master of ceremonies sounded from the hall: “Let’s say thank you to your parents! Where is the applause for our mother-in-law? ” On the other hand, it was no less loud. “Will you give explanations?” – the police pressed. “First, you explain on what basis you are interviewing us!” – the deputies answered.
“This event is illegal, according to the anonymous applicant, – we check. We have registered the material of verification of the message and have the right to interrogate the participants, ”the woman in uniform threw up her hands.“ And you can file a complaint and challenge our actions. ”
Photo: Kristina Dyuryagina, Kommersant
Some refused to give explanations, referring to the 51st article of the Constitution, while others tried to prove that they had complied with all the prescriptions. “I am still sitting in gloves,” the woman with the “Participant” badge was indignant. “Why did you come here? We have done everything according to the law. You broke these rules by your arrival. And by the way, why don’t you delay the wedding guests? Or does the coronavirus not spread at such events? “
To this, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Veliky Novgorod, police colonel Sergei Maksimov replied that the wedding is a cultural event, and the governor’s decree does not apply to it. Then the audience said that they could hold the event after the police left or the next day, but Mr. Maksimov immediately warned them: he had already stopped the event, and if the audience tried to resume it, they would receive new protocols and, as a result, increased punishment.
The police refused to release the congress participants who did not give an explanation, locking both the deputies and the journalists who had sneaked into the room. The Kommersant correspondent also had to write an explanatory letter.
The locked uniforms hung a poster on an A4 sheet of paper with the words “Freedom to Alexei Navalny” and “Russia will be free without Putin.”
The policemen who resisted were threatened with a protocol of disobedience to the police, however, on the spot, in addition to Yulia Galyamina and Vitaly Bovar, they accused only Moundep from the city of Noyabrsk, Alexander Bondarchuk. He was first released from the premises, and then served with a notice of an administrative offense. Later, a member of the Novgorod “Yabloko” Viktor Shalyakin was detained. He told MBH Media that the police followed him and detained him, stopping his car. The rest of the delegates were charged under Article 20.6.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (failure to comply with the rules of conduct when the high alert regime was introduced). Sergei Vlasov, a deputy of the Pechatniki district in Moscow, showed the journalists a protocol stating that there were 31 people in the hall at the same time, although, according to him, the police counted the delegates and confirmed that there were only 25 of them in the hall.
The Moscow military unit Sergei Tsukasov told Kommersant that, according to the police, the participants “moved from one hall to another,” and therefore their total number in the hall was exceeded. He called the actions of the police politically motivated: “They are trying to stifle political activity before the elections to the State Duma. They are doing everything to make it impossible to hold even such a legal event as a congress of municipal deputies. ” According to him, the organizing committee will try to find other options for holding the congress the next day, but in a different place, since the halls were rented only for one day. Former St. Petersburg Municipal Department Svetlana Utkina told Kommersant that although it was planned to resume the event, it will most likely not work. But attempts will continue.
Leaving the hotel, the Kommersant correspondent saw that the venue for the congress had been chosen as well as possible: the Novgorod interdistrict investigation department was located in the next building.