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MOSCOW, May 22 (Itar-Tass) — The State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament on Tuesday approved the 1st reading of the high-profile bill on large fines, up to 1.5 million roubles, for abusing the law on rallies. The house voted for the document 236-207, with one abstention.
The new legislation was proposed by United Russia lawmakers led by Alexander Sidyakin, following the May 6 events in Moscow, when the March of Millions escalated to mass disturbances and clashes with police
The concept of the document was to have been reviewed last week, on May 18, but the document drew severe criticism by the Opposition, which threatened to walk out of the sessions hall in protest. To avoid demarche, State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin held consultations with the leaders of all the house factions and the review was postponed to May 22.
Sidyakin's bill calls for multiple increase in the fines for violations during the organization of rallies and marches, for exceeding the number of declared participants and deviating from the route of the march. He did not conceal the fact that the bill was foremost aimed against the Opposition. "Get your cash ready, Opposition activists," he wrote on his microblog on Twitter.
The bill proposes community works from 20 to 200 hours for up to 4 hours day as a new kind of administrative penalty.
Obstructing the organization or holding the assembly, rally, march or picket, and forcing participation is punished by a fine from 10,000 to 900,000 roubles /at present, the fine is 100 roubles/ for citizens and 50,000 to 1.5 million roubles for officials, versus the current fine of 100 to 300 roubles.
Violators of the established procedure for assembly, rally march or picket will be fined 10,000 roubles to one million roubles /at present the fine is 1,000 to 2,000 roubles/, for organizers, 1,000 to 900,000 roubles for participants or community work up to 200 hours /the current fine is 500 to 1,000 roubles/.
The amendments ban masks and carrying of weapons during rallies and place one-year restriction on organization of rallies for persons with outstanding criminal conviction or those with two administrative arrests on record for violations during rallies.
Sidyakin acknowledged that the fines were initially two high. Citizens might be fined 30,000 to 100,000 roubles for violations at rallies, but the fines might be raised to 150,000 to 250,000 roubles for damaging property and 250,000 to 300,000 roubles for causing harm to health, he said.