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Russian protesters fined

June 6, 2012

The Russian parliament has adopted a bill that drastically increases fines for protesters. An opposition party had stalled the legislation by calling for votes on hundreds of amendments.

Policemen detain an activist of the National Bolshevik Party for taking part in a rally protesting a bill, initiated by the Russian State Duma, to authorize bigger fines for violations during rallies in central Moscow, June 5, 2012.
Image: Reuters

The State Duma, the lower house, finally passed the legislation at the third reading early on Wednesday by 241-147. It will now be sent to the Federation Council before ratification by President Vladimir Putin.

The bill will increase the fines for unauthorized protests by up to 150 percent, to one million rubles (24,352 euros) for organizers and to 300,000 rubles (7,300 euros) for participants in illegal rallies. That represents a 200-fold increase.

Passage of the bill was delayed on Tuesday as delegates of the party A Just Russia submitted more than 400 amendments to the bill in its crucial second reading and then insisted on reading out each one in detail.

The German government's Russia coordinator, Andreas Schockenhoff, has criticized the proposed law.

Russian anti-protest bill passes

He said the law sent "the wrong signal to the citizens of Russia. Instead of promoting pluralism of ideas, new restrictions threaten to increase the gap between government and citizens."

Opposition delay tactics

In a tactic known as an "Italian strike" in Russia, opposition members of parliament used delaying tactics to make the parliament postpone its vote on the bill.

Outside the parliament building, around 20 opposition demonstrators were detained on Tuesday for protesting against the bill. They say the law violates the 31st article of Russia's constitution on the right to free assembly.

The parliament's lower house is dominated by the ruling United Russia party. It has a majority of votes.

The bill was submitted less than a month ago and passed its first reading on May 22. Opposition groups accuse the Kremlin of fast-tracking the law ahead of a planned mass protest in the capital on June 12.

rg/ncy (AFP, AP)