From today the price of protest gets more expensive in Russia, at least for those who break the law.
President Putin has signed into effect steep new fines for protesters who participate in illegal demonstrations, or use violence, or organise protests that lead to injuries or damage to property.
“I looked into the files sent by the State Duma and compared our law with the similar legislative acts of other European countries. Based on these materials there is nothing in our law which is tougher than similar legislation in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain,” claimed Putin.
Fines will range from 240 euros to just over 700 euros, the latter roughly equivalent to an average monthly salary in Russia.
“I think what is more important here is to understand what this signing means. The fact that Putin signed it means that he wants to pressure, pressure hard,” said human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov.
There have been protests against the law outside the Russian parliament, the Duma. Police detained dozens of people, and there is speculation Putin rushed through the bill to deal with a big authorised demonstration planned for Tuesday.