Russian opposition figures demand prosecution of Putin after concert held in Moscow allegedly breaks Covid-19 mass gathering rules

Russian opposition figure Ilya Yashin has sent a request to the country’s Investigative Committee demanding that it look into a rally held at Moscow’s 81,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium and attended by President Vladimir Putin.

Staged on Thursday in celebration of the seventh anniversary of Crimea’s reabsorption into Russia, the festival included a concert featuring Russian celebrities such as Polina Gagarina, Sergey Lazarev, and Egor Kreed. The event also saw Putin make a speech.

According to Yashin, a councilor in the Krasnoselsky District of Moscow, the celebration violated the country’s sanitary and epidemiological rules. The authorities have imposed restrictions on mass events during the Covid-19 pandemic. Yashin has appealed directly to the Investigative Committee.

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Earlier this year, some opposition figures were arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions when they encouraged people to protest the imprisonment of Alexey Navalny. Yashin believes the police should give the same treatment to the organizers of the ‘Crimean Spring’ festival.

“The event was organized, despite the anti-Covid restrictions in force in the city, and was accompanied by mass violations of sanitary and epidemiological standards,” he wrote on Facebook. “I ask the [Investigative Committee] to investigate, identify the organizers and bring them to justice under Article 236 of the Criminal Code of Russia.”

This is the same article used to detain opposition activists in January.

According to the current rules in Moscow, the number of spectators should not have exceeded 50% of the total capacity of the complex, and all visitors should have been wearing personal protective equipment while observing social distancing. Images from the venue show many of the attendees without masks and tightly packed together.

“In Luzhniki, tens of thousands of people were without masks and gloves,” Yashin noted.

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Oleg Stepanov, another opposition activist, also sent an official complaint. In a letter to the Interior Ministry, he asked the police to prosecute Putin and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin “for putting [Muscovites’] lives in danger.” Stepanov is the coordinator for Navalny’s organization in the capital.

However, according to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the stadium was just half full, in compliance with the restrictions.

“No, it’s not true. There was no full house. It was 50% full,” he said.

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