The Save Oleg Sentsov civil society group is planning to hold demonstrations in Saint Petersburg on Friday, June 1, and in Moscow on Saturday, June 2. Protesters in Saint Petersburg are expected to gather at the intersection of Malaya Sadovaya Street and Nevskiy Avenue at 19:00 (local time). According to the organization, Moscow officials have banned the June 2 demonstration. However, it is likely that the rally will be held regardless of the ban. Protesters originally filed for permission to gather at the Pushkin, Timiryazev, and Griboyedov monuments starting at 15:00. A heightened police presence and localized traffic disruptions are expected around the demonstrations.
Official authorization is required for all protests and other large public gatherings in Russia; police sometimes use force to disperse unauthorized demonstrations.
Activists announced a global campaign on May 22 to demand the release of Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker who is serving a 20-year prison term. Sentsov was convicted on terrorism charges that he and other rights groups claim are politically motivated. He launched a hunger strike on May 14 to demand the release of 64 other Ukrainian citizens that he claims are political prisoners in Russia. OnMay 28, Sentsov reportedly agreed to receive medical treatment for his deteriorating physical condition from the hunger strike.
Individuals in Saint Petersburg and Moscow are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all potential protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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