Thousands to Rally to Defend St. Petersburg Child Cancer Center

Thousands of people are set to gather in Russia’s second-biggest city to protest the possible closing of a children’s cancer-treatment center, which officials plan to replace with a clinic for court employees.

The rally will take place today at Marsovo field, near Nevsky prospect, St. Petersburg’s main street, according to Alexey Volkov, a meeting organizer. Between 1,500 and 3,000 people will attend the rally, less than the maximum 10,000 permitted by the city administration, he said by phone.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered in November that the Supreme Court and Supreme Arbitration Court be moved to St. Petersburg from Moscow. While the site of the children’s cancer center is one possibility for the court clinic, a final decision hasn’t been made, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko said Jan. 16 in an e-mailed statement.

“The withdrawal of the hospital from the city’s medical system is unacceptable,” Valentina Matvienko, who previously served as St. Petersburg’s governor and speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, told reporters yesterday in Moscow, RIA Novosti reported.

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