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Public Chamber, Human Rights Council object to stricter punishment of rally violations

May 29, 2012, 21:23 UTC+3

The Council described that notion as artificial and threatening the constitutional right of citizens to peaceful assemblies

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MOSCOW, May 29 (Itar-Tass) —— The Public Chamber and the Presidential Human Rights Council have opposed a bill, which tightens punishment for election violations.

The Public Chamber said in an expert opinion posted on its website on Tuesday that certain provisions of the bill disagreed with the principle of proportionate punishment. It said it would agree to the enlargement of fines within the limits set by the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses (5,000 rubles). “Being guided with humane principles, the Public Chamber supports correctional labor as an alternative to administrative arrest,” it said.

In turn, the Presidential Human Rights Council proposed a number of amendments to the bill. For instance, it proposed to punish public officials for hampering rallies, marches or pickets, in particular, “with the compulsion of the event organizers to change the location or time or other conditions.”

“Any public events held in public areas, which are not used in motor traffic, do not require a permit from the executive authorities. Such events may be held freely unless their participants block motor or pedestrian traffic,” it said.

The Council also opposed the enlargement of fines for rally violations and the notion of “organization of simultaneous presence of numerous citizens in public places, which has signs of a public event.”

The Council described that notion as artificial and threatening the constitutional right of citizens to peaceful assemblies.

It called for a broad public discussion of the bill.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Development Vladimir Pligin said that citizens accused of rally violations may pay fines of up to 300,000 rubles.

“If a violation is made but it has no negative consequences the fine may vary from 10,000 to 30,000 rubles. The fine will grow from 150,000 to 300,000 rubles in the case of damage to health or property. That would be the maximal fine for an individual,” Pligin told the Ekho Moskvy radio on Tuesday.

The State Duma passed in the first reading on May 22 the bill, which increased up to 1.5 million rubles fines for rally violations. Only United Russia voted for the bill. Source said the fines might be reduced by the second reading of the bill, from 20,000-30,000 rubles for individuals, up to 500,000 for legal entities and 600,000 rubles for officials. The bill caused a broad public response and opposition protests were held near the parliament edifice. The second reading of the bill is due on May 30.

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