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On Friday, the Russian Constitutional Court will make a ruling on the compliance of several provisions of the Code of Administrative Offences and the law on rallies to the Constitution. In particular, the Constitutional Court should consider the lawfulness of fines of 1,000-2,000 roubles for the organizers of the protest actions for an excessive numerical strength of the protest actions than it was declared initially. On the same day right after the pronouncement of the Constitutional Court verdict, the State Duma will debate a bill on higher fines to 1.5 million roubles. It is not ruled out that on Friday the opposition will leave a session hall in the State Duma as a sign of protest.
The authors of the bill did not conceal that massive disorders and clashes between the protesters and the police made them thinking about a tougher punishment for those, who threaten to the security of people, encroach on their rights and make some harm to the environment, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. A United Russia deputy Alexander Sidyakin offered a more lenient variant of amendments in the Code of Administrative Offences with higher fines in the middle of April. But the May events persuaded the authors to take more adequate measures. According to the current Code of Administrative Offences a fine for people should not exceed 5,000 roubles, for officials – 50,000 roubles, for juridical persons – one million roubles. United Russia offers to raise a maximum fine for individuals from 5,000 roubles to one million roubles and for officials from 50,000 roubles to 1.5 million roubles for violations during the rallies.
New fines seem to be only the beginning in the process of making the laws on massive events tougher, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. Other bans and restrictions will be introduced and criminal responsibility will most likely be toughened for the violators. The newspaper learnt from the sources in all three opposition factions in the State Duma that the debates continue on the ways to drop this bill and the types of protest. The CPRF, LDPR and A Just Russia are expected to leave the session hall during the debates on this issue.
There are some plans to toughen the law on rallies that was proved at a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Construction late in the evening on Tuesday, the newspaper noted. The committee said in its conclusion that the punishment should be introduced for the appearance in masks at the rallies and other ways to conceal the face. Those organizers, which have an outstanding conviction for a premeditated crime or an administrative penalty for violation of the legislation on mass events, are also planned to be deprived of some rights.
After the scandal, which is linked with a tougher legislation on mass actions, United Russia agreed to make their amendments more lenient, the Kommersant daily reported. On Wednesday, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Constitutional Legislation Vladimir Pligin told the newspaper that no one is going to deprive fully the violators of their right to hold rallies. An initiator of higher fines Alexander Sidyakin noted that the fines may be less than 1.5 million roubles. The bill will be approved in the first reading on Friday, and the second reading may be debated already on May 25.
The Public Chamber has already made a negative conclusion over the amendments offered in the Code of Administrative Offences, the newspaper noted. “Some provisions of the bill do not comply with the principle of punishment adequate to the offence,” the Public Chamber said in the conclusion. The authors “do not take into account the salary of people, who participate in the rallies,” and a major difference in possible fines makes corruption risks higher. The Public Chamber noted that the law on rallies can be amended after public debates under the Constitution and international law.
The amendments were criticized sharply by all three opposition factions in the State Duma. The Committee of Civil Initiatives led by Alexei Kudrin sided with them on Wednesday. The committee said in a statement that offered measures pursue the goal “to intimidate directly people, make them abandon public activities at any cost.” The human rights activists called the initiated amendments anti-constitutional.
A leader of the Union of Rightwing Forces movement Boris Nadezhdin told the Kommersant daily that the law “will not stop the organizers and participants in the rallies.” “Such decisions do not make people drop their desire to organizer rallies, but just make them angrier.”