Yekaterinburg, May 16, Interfax - Another protest against building a church began in downtown Yekaterinburg on Thursday evening, but this rally has not been authorized by the state authorities as the previous one, which has taken place in the last three days.
Metal fences are placed around the entire square and the adjacent area with a fountain near the Drama Theatre; police officers are checking all those wishing to attend the protest.
Participants of different age behave themselves calmly. The majority of people are staying near the fountain; no one is approaching a permanent fence, which encircles a construction site. People are walking and talking to each other; activists are collecting signatures in protection of the square. Police officers, officers of the Russian National Guard, patrol cars of the traffic police and riot police are patrolling the area of the rally.
A church should unite people, not divide them and in this connection "both sides need to take certain steps for this issue to be resolved in the interests of all those who actually live there," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a media forum of the All-Russia People's Front on Thursday in reply to a participant's request for comment on the church's construction.
Mass unauthorized protests against building St. Catherine Church in Oktyabrskaya Square in downtown Yekaterinburg, where the square is situated, have been held in Yekaterinburg since May 13. Dozens of protesters have been detained; 102 protocols have been drawn up against 98 people, over the last three days the protests have been taking place. Twenty-one people were arrested for a term of two to ten days.
Putin suggested holding an opinion poll in comments on the situation in Yekaterinburg at a media forum of the All-Russia People's Front.
It was reported later that the Yekaterinburg administration wants to conduct a poll on building the church amid protests.
At the same time, construction works are underway on a site, where a church is planned to be built.