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Putin thinks rally bill needs improvement

May 24, 2012, 5:22 UTC+3

There will be an open discussion on Thursday, all expert sand the mass media will be granted access

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MOSCOW, May 23 (Itar-Tass) — President Vladimir Putin called for improving the legislation on responsibility for violating the law on rallies.

"Let’s proceed from the fact that any amendments and novelties are supposed to strengthen the democratic nature of the state and society. We should certainly protect our people from extreme manifestations by radicals. The state and society have the right to defend themselves from these manifestations,” Putin said at a meeting with senior officials of the United Russia Party on Wednesday.

Taking part in the meeting was chairman of the presidential council for the development of civil society and human rights Mikhail Fedotov, who had earlier criticized the bill proposing large fines for abusing the rallies law.

The president asked Fedotov to elaborate on his opinion.

Fedotov said he had responded to journalists' request and commented on the 1st reading of the amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses which the State Duma had passed. These amendments cause concerns, he said.

"I've examined the State Duma's resolution which approved the 1st reading of the bill and understood that it decided to overhaul the law. It included norms I had spoken about before," Fedotov said.

"There is the presidential instruction to the government dated May 7, to prepare proposals to perfect the legislation on rallies and marches, as well as administrative responsibility towards strengthening the rights and freedoms of the person and citizen.

"It will be absolutely correct if the legislation increases administrative responsibility, but simultaneously, it is necessary to perfect the legislation on rallies and marches, and the procedures must be more democratic. If we wish to bring street activities into the vein of discussion or dialogue, we must expand this vein.

"It's important to balance high responsibility on the one hand with democratization of the order, on the other. I liked the resolution's noting that the bill must be completed with a second article on rallies," Fedotov said.

He said he had agreed with head of the State Duma committee on constitutional legislation and state development Vladimir Pligin to work on the document together.

Fedotov also explained his position regarding the possibility to ask the president to veto the document.

It is impossible for the president to veto the bill which has not been approved by the two houses of the parliament yet. "We'll work on the bill, and when it is passed, we might say we're quite satisfied. If we aren’t', the Council will ask you to veto it," Fedotov said.

Putin asked if Fedotov's call had been heard in parliament. Deputy house speaker, head of Untied Russia faction Andrei Vorobyov said "we agreed to pass the law openly."

There will be an open discussion on Thursday, all expert sand the mass media will be granted access, he noted.

Vorobyov underlined that the authors of the bill had carefully studied the experience of many leading countries, such as Great Britain, the USA and Switzerland. "In France, the persons covering their faces with scarves at rallies or having stones on them are fined 10,000 to 15,000 euroes, in Switzerland up to 100,000 francs; these are normal world standards," the lawmaker underlined.

"The main objective is to ensure safety at rallies," he underlined.

The second reading of the bill is expected in early June.

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