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The State Duma proposes to toughen the laws, which regulate the rallies

May 16, 2012, 12:31 UTC+3
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The State Duma is drafting amendments to the legislation that will ban rallies for those, who violated the relevant legislation even just once, the Kommersant daily reported. If the bill is signed into law, the leaders of the protesting movements can lose the right for authorized actions. The opposition considers the measure disproportionate and the experts named it unconstitutional.

The amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences and the law on assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets, which the State Duma Committee for Constitutional Legislation discussed on Tuesday evening, envisages too tough consequences for the oppositionists. For instance, those Russian citizens, who were already brought to administrative responsibility under Article 5.38 of the Code of Administrative Offences (violations of the legislation on mass actions), Article 19.3 (for disobedience to the lawful orders of a law enforcer) and Article 20.1-20.3 (a petty act of hooliganism, violation of the rules to organize and hold mass actions, the propaganda and public demonstration of the Nazi symbols), can be deprived of the right for mass actions. The restrictions will also spread on those, who have outstanding convictions for premeditated crimes.

Another new amendment is the responsibility of the organizers of actions “for the damage done by the participants of a mass event” in case of the non-fulfilment of their duties to avoid such damage. The term organizer of the event will be also specified. Actions with the use of masks and “other objects, which hamper the identification” will be banned, the carrying of objects, “which can be used as weapons”, alcoholic drinks and etc will be banned. The chairman of the State Duma Committee from United Russia Vladimir Pligin did not rule out that Russian federal constituents are to authorize the venues for rallies.

The committee offered to introduce all these restrictions as amendments to the second reading of the bill, which particularly envisages fines from one million to 1.5 million roubles for violators. These offences can be spelled out in more details in the second reading of the bill, so that the punishment for various types of offences will be differentiated, Pligin remarked.

Representatives of the State Duma opposition were seeking to challenge the United Russia initiatives. The State Duma may approve the first variant of the bill already on May 18, the draft law will be approved in a quicker way and will probably take effect before June 12, when the opposition is planned to hold a massive protest action, the Kommersant daily reported.

The leaders of the off-system opposition, who were brought to administrative responsibility several times, namely Alexei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov or Boris Nemtsov, can be subject to the restrictions offered by United Russia.

Professor of the law department of the Moscow State University and a member of the Public Chamber, Yelena Lukyanova, told the newspaper that the restrictions for the rally organizers, who were already brought to administrative responsibility, are anti-constitutional, because they strip fully a Russian citizen of the right guaranteed by the Constitution and violate the equality of all Russian citizens to the law. President of the Moscow City Bar Chamber Genri Reznik agreed with the foresaid statement. “The right for rallies and marches is a constitutional right that cannot be breached,” he said. Director of the Institute of Human Rights Valentin Gefter believes that “it is necessary to envisage the right for a solid defence, introducing this provision in the administrative legislation,” because “there are fewer chances to contest an unlawful court verdict in the administrative trial.”

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