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MOSCOW, May 25 (Itar-Tass World Service)
General discussion of amendments to a bill on rallies and marches, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the ruling United Russian party to organize, seems to have failed. United Russia showed a prompt reaction to Putin’s proposal of May 23 to stage another round of discussion of the bill clamping down on rally organizers, “in an open regime involving all participants in the process.” Party leaders have chosen the so-called Open Tribune expert platform they have been using for discussions for several recent months. The event drew leaders both of the parliament and off-parliament opposition. Street protesters however soon withdrew from the gathering, not being allowed to take the floor.
Among those who withdrew from the gathering there were Yevgenia Chirikova, Xenia Sobchak, Alena Popova, who then were followed by the others, the Kommersant writes. “We are leaving because they are not giving us the floor. We are not going to play into the hands of the organizers of this mockery of a discussion. If this bill passed into law in any form, it will be a catalyst of protest moods in the country,” Chirikova, a green activist, told the newspaper.
“It is not a dialogue at all,” the Novye Izvesita newspaper cited television anchor Xenia Sobchak. “It is nothing more but an attempt of the organizers of the so-called open tribune to pass it off as a dialogue. But in fact, there is only a monologue of those who side with the authorities.”
Meanwhile, a deputy speaker of the State Duma lower parliament house, Oleg Morozov of United Russia, told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily that “Ms Sobchak was forty minutes late and was one of the last to ask for the floor.” “It is only natural that as a host I gave the floor to those who were present from the very beginning or to those who needed to leave the meeting before its end,” he said. In his words, “all the signals from the participants were heard and this or that way will be melted into the bill’s text when it is prepared for the second reading.”
One of the participants in this discussion, political scientist Sergei Chernyakhovsky, said that the white ribbon as a “symbol of state coupe” should be equalled to fylfot, and “walkabouts around the Kremlin by several dozens of people with badges of a certain colour should be considered as an act of violence,” the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper writes.