Local authorities in a central Moscow district forbade an anti-war demonstration that was to take place in front of the FSB’s headquarters on February 23. According to a February 18 account on the Grani.ru website, the demonstrators sought to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of Chechens who have died in what the gathering’s chief organizer, Andrei Rodionov, openly called “genocide.” Rodionov’s group, a coalition of several Russian human rights organizations, had also planned to call for a peace settlement to end the current Chechen war and for a temporary administration of the republic by the United Nations.
According to a February 23 bulletin from the Interfax news service, at least some of the organizers went ahead with the demonstration in spite of the official prohibition–and were arrested as a result. As of the afternoon of February 23, Lev Ponomarev, head of the “For Human Rights” movement, and Nikolai Khramov, head of the Russian Radicals movement, were being held at a nearby police station. Ponomarev told Interfax that about fifty people had taken part in the demonstration. He added that his organization intended to file a court case appealing the local authorities’ refusal to authorize the gathering.