Lawmakers clamp down on street protests
In a bid to curb protest demonstrations, Russian legislators adopt a wide range of new measures, deemed oppressive and undemocratic by the opposition.
From now on, you risk ending up with a 300.000 RUB (€7500) fine for participating in a street protest. If you happen to be a civil servant the fine will be up to 600.000 RUB and for legal entities the fine is up to one million RUB (€25.000), Kommersant.ru reports.
The law on street demonstrations adopted this week by the State Duma and subsequently the Federation Council defines a new set of regulations on street protests, the violation of which will be heavily fined.
The law, which has been met by massive protest from civil society organizations and the political oppostion, was approved by the State Duma with a 241-147 majority. The Communist Party, the A Just Russia Party and the Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday did their best to obstruct the adoption of the law, but were incapable to withstand the pressure from the government-loyal United Russia, the party headed by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.
Deputy leader of the A Just Russia, Gennady Gudkov, says the new law prepares the ground for repression. During Wednesday's discussions in the Duma, he strongly warned against the bill, and urged his fellow MPs to remember the bloody chapters in Russian history linked with people's public protests and the authorities' clamp-down of protesters, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.
The A Just Russia Party proposed as many as 400 amendments to the bill, which practically all were rebuffed by the United Russia majority.
The United Russia Party did agree to reduce the level of the fines, which originally were proposed to be even higher. At the same time, the party decided to expand the number of acts considered a violation.
Critics say that the law will make it easy for the authorities to take measures against any public protest by opposition forces. Leader of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights, Mikhail Fyodotov, ahead of Tuesday's State Duma vote admitted that the bill could be a breach of the country's human rigths obligations. He indicated that he might recommend President Putin to veto the bill, RIA Novosti reports.
The law is expected to come into force on 12 June, the same day as the political oppostions plans another major street demonstration, intended to become a new «March of millions».