Moscow allows 50,000 to rally against Putin
MOSCOW - Agence France- Presse
Opposition protesters gather a rally in Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 5, 2012. AP PhotoMoscow city authorities today allowed up to 50,000 people to gather this weekend for a protest against Vladimir Putin's election to a third Kremlin term.
Saturday's event will be held on the central Arbat Square, which sits at the start of the Old Arbat street popular with foreign tourists, Moscow Deputy Mayor Alexander Gorbenko told Moscow Echo radio.
The opposition had been seeking permission from the city to stage a march down the Novy Arbat avenue that also runs off the square and is one of Moscow's widest and busiest thoroughfares.
Gorbenko said police will close off the avenue if protest numbers swell beyond 50,000.
The decision was immediately hailed by leading members of the opposition, who require permission from the authorities to stage protests under strict rules they condemn.
"Let's start preparing. There has to be a lot of us!" leftist radical Sergei Udaltsov wrote on his Twitter account.
The city had initially been offering a more remote venue.
The opposition movement held three mass protests against Putin between disputed parliamentary election on December 4 and Putin's March 4 victory in presidential polls that returned him to the seat he held in 2000-2008.
Some 15,000 rallied in Moscow on Monday evening once the full election results were announced, but Putin's critics hope for bigger numbers this weekend when their supporters get a day off work.