4 Nov 2017 17:21

Irkutsk city administration sees Navalny's meeting with shopping center personnel as unpermitted rally

IRKUTSK. Nov 4 (Interfax) - The Irkutsk city administration has described a meeting between opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the staff of a local shopping center on Saturday as an unpermitted rally.

"Alexei Navalny's unauthorized rally in Irkutsk, which took place on the grounds of a furniture store, was attended by about 700 people. At the same time, no rally was held on the Konny Island, which had been previously agreed upon as the venue of the event," the city administration said in a press release.

Sergei Bespalov, the coordinator of Navalny's campaign staff in Irkutsk, told Interfax that the rally passed without incidents. He estimated its attendance at several thousand people.

Bespalov had said earlier that the Moskva shopping center would serve as the venue of "an open meeting between its personnel and Alexei Navalny" and that the event "does not have to be authorized as it is going to be held on a private territory."

The Irkutsk city administration had earlier permitted a rally to take place at a helicopter pad on Yunost Island, right near the Konny Island on the Angara River, from 10:00 a.m. to noon local time on Saturday. Bespalov argued that this site was located too far from any public transport stops and therefore was "extremely inconvenient" as the venue of a rally.