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Long-time human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva has run the plans for her 85th birthday party past Moscow officials, for fear the gathering might fall foul of Russia's tough new anti-protest laws.
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, one of Russia's best known human rights activists, says she'd better run her birthday plans past Moscow authorities in case the party is considered an illegal gathering.
Alexeyeva will be 85 next month.
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She plans to celebrate the milestone with friends in a Moscow cafe, according to RIA Novosti, which she fears could lead to misunderstandings with the police.
"There will be more than 200 guests," Alexeyeva reportedly wrote on her blog. "People are sure to walk in groups. In such cases a police escort is needed."
She appears to be referring to Russia's newly toughened protest laws, which increased fines for anyone caught participating in an unauthorized demonstration by 150-fold.
The law has been denounced as an infringement of the right to peaceful protest by activists in Russia and elsewhere – including Alexeyeva, whom the Moscow Times describes as "the matriarch of Russia's human rights community."
There was more than a little sarcasm, then, behind Alexeyeva's announcement that she would instruct her lawyers to request the authorities' formal permission for her birthday do, which is planned for July 20.
"How will they know what these people are and why they're marching in columns?" she wrote, as quoted by RIA.
One of the founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group, a watchdog set up to monitor human rights during the Soviet era, Alexeyeva quit the government's human rights council last week. According to Reuters, she said Kremlin interference with the advisory body had made its work "pointless."
Fourteen council members have resigned since Vladimir Putin's re-election in March, the news agency said.