Crimean court bans anti-government flash mob

The Simferopol Local Court banned a flash mob planned  on Monday near the Crimean Council of Ministers. The flash mob had been organized by Crimean civic activists via one of the social networks. The participants, most of whom do not know each other, were planning to sit on the steps near the central entrance to the Crimean government building and drink kvas [a very low alcohol drink made from fermented rye bread].  They complied with the court order but said that they would be lodging an appeal.


The activists who had organized the flash mob on Facebook wanted to express their protest against staffing policy in the Crimea where most of those appointed to key and other posts in central, Crimean and even the local authorities in the Crimea are from the Donetsk region.


As reported, the protest was originally called “Hello, Vasily Georgievych”! [i.e.Vasily Dzharty, the Crimean Prime Minister].  People were to bring empty beer bottles with pieces of material in them.  These were to be placed around Lenin Square and the steps of the Council of Ministers in imitation of Molotov cocktails for setting the building alight


This was supposed to hint at a recent incident when a resident of the Simferopolsk district tried to set the Crimean parliament alight by throwing a bottle with inflammatory material through the door. One of the organizers, Serhiy Veselovsky said that the flash mobbers wanted to show the authorities how a large percentage of Crimean residents view them, and after the protest remove all the bottles.


However a number of Internet uses saw the original name as offensive to the Crimean Prime Minister who is fighting a serious illness, while the police had warned that participants would face administrative proceedings. The protest was renamed to “Don’t lead us to sin!” and they opted for plastic glasses with kvass, as well as notifying the authorities of their plans. Nonetheless the court on Sunday banned this protest as well.


The application for a ban was made by the Simferopol City Executive Committee which asserted that another public action was planned to mark “International Day of Lov”.


The flash mob’s organizers also warned the authorities only on Saturday, whereas some decision of the City Executive demands that notification is given a full 15 days before, supposedly so that they can get ready. The court agreed with such arguments and, referring to the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 28 July 1988 «On the procedure for the organization of meetings, political rallies, street events and demonstrations in the USSR”, banned peaceful gatherings outside the Crimean Council of Ministers.


When Oleksandra Dvoretska, who had provided the official notification of the flash mob, arrived with a friend at the central square, they were met by a court bailiff and police officers.


She is planning to appeal against the court order and says that the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union will be helping her to do so. She hopes that Ukraine will not follow the path taken by Belarus, and that flash mobs will remain a part of civic life in the Crimea.


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