Protest Action in Saint Petersburg: Social Activists against City Government Urban Policies
On August, 30, Saint Petersburg witnessed a series of the so called single pickets staged by a group of social activists protesting the city government policies in the area of urban development and planning. The protest action was held in Nevsky prospect, in the down town area.
The action was organized to protest the failure of city government to find real solutions to city problems.
Lobbying the construction developers’ interests by government officials was also a focus of the protest.
The protest on Nevsky involved some activists of city NGOs, grass roots activists, and candidates for deputies of the City Hall Assembly and Russian State Duma (Parliament), who positioned themselves every twenty meters away from one another on Nevsky prospect, along its odd side, thus having formed thirty single pickets.
These pickets have become the second protest action over the recent time, with the first similar one having been staged on August, 17.
During the protest, its participants highlighted the most burning issues Saint Petersburg is challenged now:
- illegal and densification in the area of Alexandrino, in Altaiskaya street, Lachta Center property project (with the tower designed to be about 456 meters high), ‘’Rozhka’’ project in Maloochtinsky prospect, Riverside pipe line and some others;
- illegal construction in the Dyominsky garden green area, Savushkina 112 square, Udelny park, Rzhevsky municipal forest park and Malinovka park;
- destruction of architectural and historical monuments and structures such as Abaza house (Fontanka river 23) and Arakhcheyevsky Lodgments;
- archeological monuments of Litovsky Castle, Farforovsky Cemetry and Ochtinsky ness;
- illegal renovation of residential quarters in Ligovsky prospect, Block 43 Polustrovo and 35 Rzevka;
- problems caused by the so – much – talked - of relocation of the Supreme Court from Moscow into Saint Petersburg with 65 billion federal budget Rubles earmarked to finance the procedure;
- illegal outdoor advertisement posted in the city streets;
- lobbying the construction mafia interests by Smolny (city government office), Zenit Arena project construction financed through the funds allocated to support social sites;
- against nonfeasance of Saint Petersburg City Housing Inspection agency.
The protest involved activists of the ERA Group NGO, Gradoshchita KPD NGO, civil groups ‘ ’Let’s Save Alexandrino’’, ‘’Arakhcheyevsky Lodgments’’, ‘’Dyominsky garden’’, ‘’In Defence of the 300 th Anniversary of Saint Petersburg’’, ‘’Altayskaya street 39’’, ‘’Malinovka Park’’, ‘’Let’s Defend Udelny Park’’, against renovation of the residential areas in Ligovsky prospect and against construction projects in Maloochtinsky prospect and many others.
Single picketing is the only legal form of protest in Russia which does not require permission issued by local governments and police agencies.
However, even this type of public protest often triggers nervousness among the local authorities.