An anti-war rally drew dozens of protesters to central St. Petersburg on Tuesday despite government-controlled media presenting Russians as unanimous in supporting the invasion of Georgia.
Russian media has been waging an anti-Georgian campaign since hostilities between Georgia and Russia began last week.
Around 60 people gathered on Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa, next to a statue of writer Nikolai Gogol, with about 40 holding banners, on Tuesday evening.
One of the posters criticized the Russian media's response to the conflict with the slogan, "We Need Information, Not Propaganda."
Others read, "Stop the War" and "Human Life Is Priceless."
Organized by the youth wing of the democratic party Yabloko, the rally called for the "cessation of military action and the establishment of peace in the South Ossetian conflict zone."
"The organizers will refrain from apportioning blame about who started the war," a news release about the rally stated.
"There will be neither words of support nor words of condemnation directed to the conflict's participants. The action's participants intend to call both sides to stop killing peaceful citizens and to sit down at the negotiating table."
The organizers brought blank sheets of paper and markers to allow participants who had no posters to create their own on the spot. People squatted on the ground to write such slogans as "All People Are Brothers, War Is a Crime," and "We Are With Those Who Are Being Killed, Not With Those Who Are Killing."
Although the protesters had secured permission from the authorities, there was a police van and an OMON special-task police force truck parked close to the site on nearby Nevsky Prospekt. But the police did not interfere.
Nevertheless, one police officer recorded protesters on a video camera, while another copied down what was written on the posters in a notebook.
Olga Kurnosova, the local leader of Garry Kasparov's United Civil Front, part of pro-democracy coalition The Other Russia, took part in the rally and held aloft a handwritten poster that said, "No to War!"
The United Civil Front issued a statement blaming President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for violating the Constitution by starting military action without the necessary sanction from the Federation Council and called for immediate negotiations, troop withdrawal and an end to the war.
The war in Georgia will also be addressed by musicians and speakers at a United Civil Front-promoted outdoor concert, "Rock for Freedom," due to take place on Ploshchad Sakharova on Aug. 22, the movement's spokesman said on Thursday.
Televizor, SP Babai and other bands have been scheduled to perform in the concert, which marks the anniversary of the failed 1991 coup d'etat by Soviet hardliners.
Meanwhile, Alexei Nikonov, the frontman of local punk band Posledniye Tanki v Parizhe (Last Tanks in Paris), also known as PTVP, announced that his band's next concert, at Mod on Aug. 27, would be against the war in Georgia.
"This is war," he said in a statement this week.
"The crisis was inevitable. They need a small victorious war... Oil pipes, imperial hallucinations, but the main thing is the money, it's always the same... Inflation? Poverty? The power of the oligarchy? The war for them is a solution to every problem. This is how the state acts. Imperialism hypnotizes through aggression. We are responding the only way we know how."
News source: Times.spb.ru
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