Sat, 23 Feb 2019
-8
Moscow

Russians in Moscow and other cities across the country are participating in protests against the prospect of transferring the disputed Kurile Islands to Japan.

The January 20 protest in Moscow has been sanctioned by the authorities and was organized by a coalition of groups including Left Front, the Party of Action, the Other Russia, Novorossia, and other left-leaning and nationalist organizations.

In the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, about 500 people participated in the demonstration chanting the slogan, 'The Kuriles are ours! Down with [President Vladimir] Putin's government.'

On January 19, about 300 people demonstrated in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the capital of the Far Eastern island of Sakhalin.

The Soviet Union seized the four southern-most Kurile Islands from Japan in the closing days of World War II. The dispute over them has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending the hostilities.

In November, Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate negotiations based on a 1956 Soviet proposal to return the two less populated islands, Shikotan and a group of islets called Habomai.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on January 14 that the two countries still have 'substantial disagreements' despite some progress in bringing their positions closer.

Lavrov also warned not to expect progress toward an agreement unless Japan first recognizes Russian sovereignty over the Pacific island chain.

RFE/RL's Russian Service

RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda is the leading international broadcaster in Russia. As Russia witnesses increasing control of the media by state authorities, Radio Svoboda has become a key forum for those who lack access to other means of free expression.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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