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The Moscow Times, October 31, 2003

Yukos Defenders Join Annual Lubyanka Rally

By Maria Danilova

About 2,000 mostly elderly people gathered in the center of Moscow on Lubyanskaya
Igor Tabakov / MT
With SPS flags behind him, a man handing out signs that say "Free Khodorkovsky!"
Ploshchad on Thursday to commemorate the victims of Stalin's repressions. But the flurry surrounding the election campaign and the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky gave the annual rally a new tone.

Anatoly Chubais, a leader of the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, took the stage with human rights activists but was not given the right to address the crowd, which provoked the dozens of young SPS supporters attending the rally to chant, "Shame! Shame!" and walk away.

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky also attended the rally in front of the old KGB headquarters, but he did not ask to speak.

"This is a rally to commemorate the victims of Stalin's repressions. There is no room for politics here," said Yevgeny Bunimovich, a City Duma deputy who helped organize the event and who prevented Chubais from getting the microphone.

Chubais did not leave the rally but moved to the opposite side of the stage, where he spoke to journalists who quickly encircled him. He called for society to unite to prevent a repeat of the repressions of the 1930s.

When asked to comment on the Khodorkovsky case, Chubais said he would hold a separate news conference dedicated to the subject.

A Kremlin faction led by former security service officers is said to be behind the attack on Khodorkovsky, the CEO of Yukos.

Several people held up signs reading "Mikhail, Hold On!" or "Free Khodorkovsky!"

Chubais spokesman Andrei Trapeznikov said he had been invited to the rally, Interfax reported.

"Yes, Chubais was invited, but he was not scheduled to speak," Bunimovich said in a telephone interview. "It was up to Stalin's victims and their families to express themselves, because the event was dedicated to them.

"It was regrettable that while elderly people were speaking from the stage about having served in the camps, SPS supporters were shouting, 'Shame!'"

Sergei Kovalyov, a veteran human rights campaigner who is a member of the SPS faction in the State Duma, did speak at the rally.


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Human Rights


The Moscow Times, October 31, 2003

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