With public order high on the Kremlin’s agenda, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party has struck back.
Following the biggest protests ever against his 12-year rule, the State Duma lower house of parliament, where United Russia holds a majority, has passed a law which greatly increases fines against demonstrators.
Opponents say this is intended to stifle political dissent.
One said the law reflected the Kremlin’s “fear of the people.”
The last step to make it official is Putin’s signature.
It would dramatically raise maximum fines to the equivalent of nearly 15,000 euros for organisers and more than 7,000 euros for citizens participating in demonstrations at which public order is judged to have been disturbed.
In comparison, Russian fines for prostitution are capped at roughly 12,000 euros, and interfering at a nuclear plant some 5,000 euros.
In a country where salaries average around 600 euros per month, a person might think twice before expressing his convictions by being part of a public demonstration.
But the speaker of the Upper House says the law is not meant to repress people, rather it is to reinforce responsible behaviour.
Russia Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko said: “The aim is not to punish or torment anyone. Any protest organiser should understand that if your approach is not responsible and if someone suffers as a result then the onus is on you: either you pay a public work penalty or money. I expect all public rally organisers will become more responsible through this. It will raise the level of responsibility and protect people who go to rallies believing they are always safe – as they should be.”
Moscow already requires a permit for gatherings and the authorities often use force to break up unauthorised protests.
Activists fear they will abuse the law to crack down.
Opposition lawmakers said Putin wanted the new measure ready before a planned mass protest in the capital next week.
Our Moscow correspondent spoke to Mikhail Fedotov about this. He is head of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Council on Human Rights. He has been in the post since his appointment by former president Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. He came into it after heading Russia’s Union of Journalists. In the early 1990s he was Minister for Press and Information.
Alexander Shashkov, euronews: Mr Fedotov, among many activists, you have advised Mr Putin to veto the protest control law which toughens penalties against unauthorised demonstrators. Why did you advise him not to approve this?
Mikhail Fedotov, Chairman of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights: Because the president has every reason to veto the law. The president is the guarantor of the constitution, of civil and human rights, and it would be right for him to redress the parliament’s error and reject the law, to send it back to parliament.
We do need to change our law concerning demonstrations. Recently, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission for Democracy through Law, analysed our laws and made some quite long recommendations.
That is exactly the direction we should go in, although the amendments adopted today lead us in the opposite direction.
If we want to implement European standards in our laws, we must follow the Venice Commission’s advice. Moving otherwise means we move away from European standards.
euronews: The president’s press-secretary has said the law will be vetoed only if it doesn’t meet European standards. Does it?
Fedotov: It would be enough to say that the law confuses civic responsibility with criminal responsibility. The law, in fact, makes a civil offence a criminal offence. This is the most flagrant violation you can have of the principles of a country’s foundation in law and its judicial system.
If we compare an offence committed during a protest demonstration with the same act outside a demonstration, we see a difference of about 6,000 euros.
That’s to say, if you damage someone’s health or property during an organised protest, the fine can be 7,500 euros, but the very same act committed in other conditions carries a maximum fine of 1,000 euros. In this case, I think our parliament has gone too far.
- 1Lavrov hits Turkey with more penalties, doubts commitment to war on “secret allies” ISIL
- 2Belgian police release new details about on-the-run fifth Paris suspect
- 3Turkey warns Russia not to ‘play with fire’ over downing of fighter jet
- 4Mali: at least 3 dead in attack on UN peacekeepers base in Kidal
- 5Turkey detains journalists who allege army lorries carried weapons for ISIL
- 1Turkey dismisses Russia’s economic threats over downing of fighter jet
- 2Putin and Hollande agree on greater cooperation over Syrian air strikes
- 3Lavrov hits Turkey with more penalties, doubts commitment to war on “secret allies” ISIL
- 4Russia hits Turkey with economic sanctions, warns more could follow
- 5Italian police seize hundreds of rifles bound for Belgium
- 1Fate of pilots of downed Russian jet unclear
- 2Russia confirms Turks have shot down one of its planes on Syrian border
- 3Hasna Aitboulahcen did not detonate a suicide vest during the St. Denis shoot out
- 4Paris attacker Abdelhamid Abaaoud ‘returned to scene of shootings’
- 5Five questions on Russia’s air strikes in Syria
- 1Coordinated terror attacks leave dozens dead in Paris
- 2euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 31000-year-old Bible found in Turkey
- 4Bomb and several shootings in central Paris – reports of fatalities and injuries
- 5International news | euronews, latest international news
- 6Police hunting Paris attacks mastermind battle with suspects in heart of Paris
- 7world Weather | euronews: world ten day weather forecast
- 8European Union News | euronews: latest breaking news and headlines about European Union
- 9Humans consume more than planet can produce on ‘Earth Overshoot Day’
- 10latest sci-tech news : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 11Thousands in Bucharest blame corruption for Friday’s nightclub blaze
- 12International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 13‘Anonymous’ hackers’ group declares ‘war’ on ISIL
- 14New temporary spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood appointed
- 15‘Maxed-out:’ Jordan’s King Abdullah II’s frank warning over Syria crisis
- 16No Comment | euronews: international news images without commentary
- 17Special Reports : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 18Business news and finance news | euronews: international economic and finance news
- 19Latest News Bulletin
- 20Terrorist threat on Europe’s rail network, according to German tabloid
Latest world news
Top Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elci shot dead in Turkey
Ahead of COP21, climate-change activists prepare to march on London
Mali: at least 3 dead, 4 seriously injured in attack on UN base in Kidal
Police name Planned Parenthood shooting suspect
Mali: at least 3 dead in attack on UN peacekeepers base in Kidal
Wires > News
- 15:42 CET Suicide car bomb kills five in northern Iraq
- 15:34 CET Experts optimistic Tut’s tomb may conceal Egypt’s lost queen
- 15:16 CET Police, migrants clash on Macedonia border; soldiers build fence
- 15:13 CET Ahead of climate summit, French use emergency laws to put…
- 15:12 CET Spain’s Rajoy vows to cut tax, create jobs if re-elected
- 14:59 CET China police bust online gun ring, seize 1,180 guns – Xinhua
- 14:54 CET Police fire tear gas on crowd of mourners in eastern Congo
- 14:45 CET Kenya arrests two Iranians suspected of planning attacks – ministry