MOSCOW (RNS) — Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church suffered a rare setback this week as authorities in Yekaterinburg, the country’s fourth-largest city, backtracked on plans for a new cathedral after thousands of people protested against its construction in a popular park.

Defying a ban on unsanctioned public gatherings, protesters rallied for six consecutive nights between May 13-18, tearing down sections of a metal fence around the planned construction site.

The demonstrations drew about 2,000 people every evening — a significant number for illegal rallies in Russia.

“This is our city,” shouted protesters, as police with nightsticks dragged people from the crowd, according to footage aired by TV Rain, an online opposition channel. “Today the fence — tomorrow (President Vladimir) Putin,” shouted other protesters.

Police made almost

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