Around 20 people have been arrested outside the Russian parliament as its lower house prepared to approve a controversial anti-protest law.
The new legislation includes proposals for a dramatic increase in fines for anyone organising unauthorised protests. Offenders could be charged up to 39,000 euros.
It will also prevent those with a criminal record from joining protests.
“The public will not even be allowed to go for a walk,” said one protester. “Look at this lawlessness now. Why are you breaking up a one man picket?” he added as he was pulled away by police.
The new bill has been proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, which dominates the Duma. Russia’s opposition said Putin is trying to contain a large protest movement against his rule.
“It’s happening at a time when tension in society is growing, when the protest movement is growing in strength,” said Gennady Gudkov from the ‘A Just Russia’ party.
“This is an obvious attempt to drive us underground or into a corner and we know how it usually ends.”
Protesters complained the new law goes against article 31 of Russia’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly. They have held protests on the 31st of 31 day months to call for the new law to be rejected.