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MOSCOW, March 13 (Itar-Tass) —The law on rallies and demonstrations may be changed: deputies of the Moscow municipal Duma have started working on addendums to it, requesting reports from the city’s services – how the activity in the streets affects the state of the city and whether the mass rallies irritate Muscovites. The document, which the city authorities published on Monday, reads that damage to the city from the mass rallies was of many million roubles. The opposition fears they may be made cover expenses of the work of the police and cleaning companies during protests.
THE NOVYE IZVESTIA writes the Moscow Mayor’s Office claims the rallies of several thousand participants affect the citizens. They affect the every-day rhythm of the city, block the traffic and damage the city infrastructures, the report reads. EMERCOM has suffered the biggest damage. “Unplanned expenses” of the ministry made about 1.8 million roubles.
THE KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA daily calculated the damage from downtime of vehicles of the Moscow United Energy Company due to blocked streets during rallies in Pushkinskaya, Manezhnaya, Bolotnaya and Lubyanskaya squares made 350,000 roubles. Specialised vehicles of the Moscow Gas maintenance service could move through traffic jams caused by blocked streets at an average speed of only seven kilometres per hour and their arrival delays made about 38 minutes. The damage is 250,000 roubles. Mosvodokanal /water supplies service/ spent extra petrol worth 200,000 roubles, and about 600,000 roubles in additional payments to the staff.
Head of Moscow’s infrastructure complex Petr Birukov reported to Mayor Sergei Sobyanin already on Wednesday that the mass rallies of the opposition For Honest Elections, organised in Moscow since 2011, had been affecting the city a lot, THE KOMMERSANT writes. The documents also reads that the street rallies delay arrival of emergency services, and the city budget has suffered major losses. On Monday morning a high-ranking official of the Mayor’s Office said referring to the report it was time to correct the federal law on rallies, meetings and demonstrations.
Soon after that statement, Deputy Mayor Alexander Gorbenko, supervising approval of street rallies, announced an emergency briefing. Gorbenko said that Birukov’s report is a working document, and the Mayor’s Office “does not have an intention to extinguish the protest activities.” He also assured that all the expenses in the report were not crucial for the city budget, and “everything happening in the public field is priceless,” thus “transferring into kopeks, cubic metres, or tonnes of petrol is a stupid idea.” Then, the official made it clear he supported the street activity of Muscovites: “Without street activities we shall not build a civil, well-formed, stable and democratic state.” However, Gorbenko is sure under the present conditions the law on rallies and demonstrations really has ‘blind spots’ and does not reflect all requirements. The deputy mayor added that the Mayor’s Office does not or has not had plans to change the law.
And still, the municipal deputies are ready to start reforming the law. Chariman of the Moscow City Duma Vladimir Platonov told THE KOMMERSANT he had filed an application to the city authorities – “in order to learn problems,” which rallies cause.
The opposition is not happy about the mere fact of such ideas shared by the Mayor’s Office and the city Duma. “I fear they simply want to heap up even more bureaucracy to the law on rallies, which, by the way, contradicts the Constitution, as it introduces permission, not notifying character of rallies’ organisation,” Leader of Yabloko Party Sergei Mitrokhin told the newspaper. A member of the organisation committee of rallies For Honest Elections Yuri Saprykin, in his turn, called the initiative of the Moscow city Duma “short-sighted and doubtful.”
Human rights activists responded to the rumours about addendums to the law in the interests of officials and city services, THE NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes. Co-chairperson of the social council of Honest Election Alexander Brod and a leader of the movement For Human Rights Lev Ponomarev say the right for meetings should not be limited from the practical point of view. “Such rallies are necessary. This should be considered. The best option is to have the power listen to the reasonable criticism and to settle gained problems,” Alexander Brod said acknowledging the rallies cause certain inconveniences for Muscovites and city services.