Nationalist protesters in Moscow attacked guests and school children who participated at an event organised by Russia's leading human rights group Memorial, pelting them with disinfectant and ammonia.
Yelena Zhemkova, the organisation's executive director, told the Moscow Times that the award ceremony was organised for high-school students to mark the culmination of their annual event, called "A person in the history: Russia in the XX century." Through the competition, students from across the country are encouraged to research their local history by studying historical archives and newspapers, interviewing witnesses, and from other sources.
"Memorial was holding a very important event at Dom Kino in central Moscow, but the guests and the participants were attacked by a group of aggressive protesters who threw green disinfectant and ammonia at them as they tried to enter the building," Zhemkova was quoted as saying. Among those attacked was noted Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya, who was sprayed in the face with green disinfectant. The author headed the jury at the competition.
Local media reports said there were about 20 protesters of the People's Liberation Front nationalist movement, who reportedly gathered outside the event venue with banners reading "we don't need alternative history," and shouting "fascists."
However, in an interview with the Govorit Moskva radio station, Maria Katasonova, youth wing coordinator of the People's Liberation Front, denied attacking the author. "We don't know who sprayed Ulitskaya," she was quoted as saying in the interview. "I only saw her turn around and she was already covered in green disinfectant," she added.
German ambassador to Russia Rüdiger von Fritsch, was among the international guests who attended the event, Russian daily Novaya Gazeta reported.
Zhemkova alleged that the police did not take any action against the attackers, calling it a one-man picket. She added that they have witnessed protests during many of their events in the past, but this was the first time protesters acted so aggressively and attacked guests and attendees. Citing a recent incident, she said protests were held during an exhibition on the first Chechen war, organised by them in March at the Sakharov Center, but no one was attacked by the protesters.