ST. PETERSBURG, February 3 (RIA Novosti) – Some 800 people gathered in downtown St. Petersburg on Sunday to protest the possible closing of St. Petersburg’s unique children’s cancer treatment center.
Organizers said up to 2,000 came to Marsovo Pole in protest against the move. “No incidents were reported during the protest,” a local police spokesman said on Sunday.
The news that one of the largest and best equipped hospitals in St. Petersburg is to be relocated to accommodate a clinic for Supreme Court and Supreme Arbitration Court staff after they move to St. Petersburg from Moscow shocked both City Hall and the general public late last year. For many days, St. Petersburg residents rallied and collected signatures against the move.
In January, Russian authorities denied the plans to relocate the center, saying that it is not on the list of possible facilities to be converted into a hospital for Russian judges. However, St. Petersburg citizens doubt that the plans to shut the clinic have been dropped.
A petition to protect the hospital gathered more than 100,000 signatures in a few days. Judges and employees of Russia’s Supreme Arbitration Court have also signed their own petition against the hospital’s possible closure.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.