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Duma to discuss heavy fines for public order breaches at rallies

May 22, 2012, 3:31 UTC+3
The bill was submitted in the aftermath of the May 6 ‘March of the Millions’
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MOSCOW, May 22 (Itar-Tass) – Russia’s State Duma is expected to discuss a much-spoken-of initiative of the United Russia party faction to introduce heavy fines of up to 1.5 million rubles /USD 1=RUB 29.5/ for encroachments on law and order during street actions.

The bill was submitted by a group of MPs representing United Russia and led by Alexander Sidyakin in the aftermath of the May 6 ‘March of the Millions’, which ended up in clashes between the demonstrators and the police.

The concept of the document was to be considered initially last week but it triggered sharp criticism on the part of the Duma opposition consisting of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and A Just Russia Party. It threatened that it would walk out of the house in protest.

To prevent a roaring scandal, consultations of the leaders of Duma factions and Speaker Sergei Naryshkin were convened, and the readings of the bill were postponed as a result.

Originally, the gist of MP Sidyankin’s proposal was to increase the penalties for breaches of law and order during rallies and street marches manifold. It embraced the situations where more people would attend a rally than its organizers might declare initially and the marching column veered off the route coordinated with the authorities in advance.

Sidyakin did not conceal the fact that the bill was spearheaded at the opposition parties and movements in the first place.

“Time for the oppositionists to get cash ready for putting out,” he wrote in his microblog in Twitter.

According to his plans, cash would be laid out in impressive amounts. For instance, he proposed raising the upper limit of the administrative fines, which are specified by the Code of Administrative Violations, from the 5,000 rubles envisioned at present to a million rubles for physical persons and 1.5 million rubles for officials.

Sidyakin’s bill said, among other things, that the exclusive power to award these fines rests with the courts.

Simultaneously, the bill presupposes mandatory social works.

The Duma committee for state construction has supplied the bill with a special roadmap of its further discussions and the amendments that should be passed by the second reading.

The amendments contain a provision on banning masks and small arms during demonstrations. It prohibits the persons with an outstanding conviction from taking part in the organization of meetings for a period of twelve months.

The same concerns the individuals who have been subjected to administrative arrests more than twice for encroachments committed during public actions.

Committee chairman Vladimir Pligin said the size of fines may actually vary from 20,000 to 30,000 rubles to 300,000 rubles for individuals, 500,000 rubles for corporations and 600,000 rubles for officials.

Pligin gave the assurances that the committee would take account of a resolution that Russia’s Constitutional court passed on the numeric strength of attendance at public rallies.

In most likelihood, the Duma will pass the bill in the first reading, although only the United Russia party faction will vote in favor of it. The other three parties will vote against it in spite of the consultations that have been held, even though no one expects walkouts this time.

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