The Upper House in Russia has passed a law that could see protesters fined over 7000 euros for taking part in public demonstrations.
In response, the opposition party Yabloko staged a number of one man pickets outside the Upper House. Critics fear the law will smother any form of public dissent.
Sergei Mitrokhin, Leader of the Yabloko Party opposes the reform:
“I think the authorities are writing their own sentence today. If a protest cannot be expressed by peaceful and legal means, then it will find other ways to show itself, that are not peaceful.”
The legislation was backed by 132 senators who argued it was a necessary measure to ensure public safety. It now just has to be signed off by President Vladmir Putin.
Valentina Matviyenko, Federation Council speaker explains the bill’s merits:
“This is not a prohibitive law. Nobody has prohibited holding meetings, so they can openly express their opinions. But public safety should not be violated. There should be no threat for human life and health.”
The opposition believe the bill goes against Article 31 of Russia’s Constitution, which gives Russian citizens the right to assemble for rallies or demonstrations peacefully and without weapons.
However, on the streets of Moscow the general public remain divided over their support for the law.
Valery, a Muscovite says:
“I think order must remain as order and everyone should carry responsibility for what they do.”
Yuri another Muscovite adds: “On the one hand it’s right, on the other I think it’s too much, the fines are enormously high. If you take your average rally participant, they’re not rich as far as I understand it and it might cause discontent.”
The law comes just months after a wave of protests against President Vladmir Putin’s rule.