Moscow officials granted a demonstration permit to a Russian nationalist group headed by controversial figure Dmitry Demushkin, allowing it to hold a rally and march through the Russian capital on May 1, or May Day. The permit was granted despite Demushkin’s conviction last year on charges of organizing a criminal group after he renamed his group in an attempt to work around a 2010 ban. Demushkin reportedly expects around 3,000 to participate.
The slogan of the march is “for the rights and freedoms of the Russian people and the indigenous peoples of Russia!” according to Meduza, quoting Interfax. Demushkin and his allies are calling the group “Russkie,” which is at least the third name he has used since 1999, when he first formed the nationalist Slavic Union group.
It operated under that name until Moscow banned it in 2010 on charges of extremism, which prompted Demushkin to reregister as Slavic Power. Prosecutors said the group promoted Nazi-like ideas, according to the Moscow Times. Demushkin had been charged with similar offenses twice before, but dodged convictions.
Demushkin was arrested Monday for allegedly attending a party to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday. He reportedly was found with Nazi paraphernalia, but he and his supporters deny those allegations.
That's Dmitry Demushkin who led Slavic Union, a group of 25,000 Neo-Nazis that Putin shut down bc their views were 2extreme @christogrozev
â€” Silver Surfer (@RobPulseNews) April 21, 2015
Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and has held a seat on the Supreme Council of Putin’s United Russia party since 2004. He defeated prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election, which Navalny alleged was plagued by voter fraud. Putin’s Kremlin has strongly criticized what it calls the nationalist motives of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s government in Kiev, often decrying “Nazi” elements in Ukrainian politics.
Members of Demushkin’s group reportedly have volunteered to fight alongside pro-Russian separatists who have battled the Ukrainian government to gain autonomy for predominantly ethnic Russian regions in southeastern Ukraine.