Government authorities in St. Petersburg refused to grant permission for an annual memorial march for Boris Nemstov, an assassinated opposition politician, according to an announcement on Saturday, February 16. The march was intended to be held in the city center on Sunday, February 24. The St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly rejected all proposed routes and suggested an alternate rally in Polyustrovsky Park, approximately 5 km (3 mi) from downtown St. Petersburg. It is unclear if opposition groups will accept the alternate arrangement or proceed with an unauthorized demonstration in the city center, likely near Lenin Square or the Solovetsky Kamen. Large crowds, localized disruptions, and a heightened security presence are likely in the vicinity of the demonstration; if the groups attempt to hold an unauthorized protest, clashes with security forces cannot be ruled out.
Boris Nemstov was a prominent opposition politician and critic of Vladimir Putin. He was assassinated in February 2015 in Moscow. Five people were arrested and sentenced to prison for their involvement in the killing, though it is unknown who ordered the assassination. Opposition groups have commemorated Nemstov annually with marches and rallies, including in St. Petersburg.
Individuals in St. Petersburg are advised to monitor developments to the situation, anticipate large crowds, heightened security measures, and localized transportation disruptions in the vicinity of any rallies, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public or on social media, and avoid all public demonstrations as a precaution.