Russia's Interior Ministry: May 6 protest venue access blocked by organizers, not police

The attendees of a May 6 demonstration on Bolotnaya Square were blocked from the venue by the event organizers, not police forces, said Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

"Being in the office, I was genuinely surprised that the space in front of the venue where the rally was due to take place was half empty, when the bulk of people had already marched through Yakimanka Street. When I started investigating where most demonstrators had gone, it turned out that it was blocked by the event organizers themselves," Kolokoltsev told reporters, when asked whether the police failed to provide citizens with full access to the venue.

I watched what was happening on a computer screen, he said.

It is not true that there was not enough space for citizens to access the venue, the minister said.

"There was enough space there," Kolokoltsev said.

All who were involved in conducting this demonstration will be assessed as part of the criminal inquiry into the Bolotnaya riots, he said.

"If you remember, all mass protests, which involved Moscow police presence, unless there were provocations on the part of organizers and attendees - normally, all these events would be held at a fair level. Even the organizers of these events stressed that and even thanked law enforcement officers for fairly good organization of all this work," the minister said.

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