Several thousand people rallied Wednesday in Russia’s fourth-largest city as the showdown between authorities and activists protesting the plans to a build a cathedral in a local park entered its third day.
Thousands gathered in a riverside park in Yekaterinburg in the evening. Some were on bicycles, more camped out on the grass, and others were walking their dogs.
As night fell, protesters turned on their mobile phone lights and flashlights, chanting, “We stand for the park!”
Security measures for what has largely been a peaceful protest were heightened on the eve of the rally, with hundreds of riot police deployed to the park.
Earlier, construction workers started building a new fence to replace the chain-link fence that protesters brought down a day earlier.
Opponents of the cathedral, which is promoted by authorities and funded by the owners of two major local industrial giants, say the construction project smack in the city center would take away green and recreational space needed by residents of a city with 1.5 million people.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier Wednesday that the Kremlin had full trust in the local government to handle the protests, but he also decried the rallies, which he described as unsanctioned, illegal demonstrations.
Hundreds of protesters stayed in the park well after midnight, facing several rows of riot police who were encircling the fence around the proposed construction site.