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Duma introduces criminal responsibility for repeated violations at rallies

Published time: July 04, 2014 12:12
A supporter of Aleksei Navalny detained during an unsanctioned rally in Moscow's Manezh Square. (RIA Novosti/Alexsey Nichukchin)

A supporter of Aleksei Navalny detained during an unsanctioned rally in Moscow's Manezh Square. (RIA Novosti/Alexsey Nichukchin)

Russia’s State Duma has passed a set of amendments ordering up to five years behind bars for repeated violations at rallies and marches, and making it obligatory for reporters to display an ID when attending such events.

The bill was drafted in April this year by the conservative United Russia and center-left Fair Russia caucuses. The authors of the document claimed that the majority of trouble makers in Russia were repeated violators and proved their point with the Interior Ministry’s statistics. They indicate that, of 36 people who were detained for illegal protest in the Moscow city center on February 6 this year, 21 had been previously been found guilty of administrative offense. Two of these people had each violated the law on rallies 16 times.

Police detain participants in the Strategy 31 unauthorized rally on Triumfalnaya Square in Moscow. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Biyatov)

Multiple violations of the law over a short period of time demonstrate that offenders are not afraid of the current punishment. This is why we decided to tighten the responsibility for repeated violations of mass events rules,” the sponsors of the bill have said.

According to the bill the repeated violation of public order at a rally must be punished with a fine of up to 1 million rubles (about US$29,000), up to 480 hours of correctional labor or even up to five years in prison.

Refusal to comply with law enforcers’ rightful demands at a rally carries up to 100,000 rubles ($2,900) in fines or up to 30 days of administrative arrest.

Disrupting the city traffic or social infrastructure will cause the official organizers of the rally up to 500,000 rubles.

The new rules also allow the police to preventively cordon off city areas over fears of riots. Currently law enforcers can only do so to stop the already developing violence.

The existing law that bans to bring weapons and explosives to a sanctioned rally is enlarged with bans on any poisonous, flammable or foul-smelling substances, fireworks and flares.

Police arrest participants of an unauthorized rally outside the building of the State Duma protesting against a bill with tougher sanctions for violations during rallies. (RIA Novosti/Andrey Stenin)

The new bill also orders reporters who come to the events in order to cover them to carry a document confirming their identity and status of a journalist. They must also wear a clearly visible sign identifying them as press.

The freshly-passed draft continues the line started in mid-2012 when the Russian authorities for the first time introduced the tougher law on rallies, raising the maximum fine for ordinary citizens found guilty of participating in illegal protest from about $70 to about $9,000. A different law offered some simplification in the process ordering to make special places, dubbed ‘Hyde Parks’ in major Russian cities where rallies could be held without a license, but only with prior notification.

Comments (7)


Jeanie Anderson 07.07.2014 00:01

If you want to attend a rally to protest corrupt government officials, or corrupt big business "oligarchs" ;, or corruption in law enforcement, you should be free to do so, whether individually, or as a group.
But the best thing to do if you feel you have been arrested unfairly, is to take the name and badge number of the arresting officer, get a lawyer who will gather all information regarding your case, and bring all your evidence to court. It's important to be WITHIN the law, otherwise your goose is cooked. Parents always told me and my friends, "If a cop tells you to move on, you move on. No arguments."


Jeanie Anderson 06.07.2014 23:44

It doesn't matter how many protests you go to, as long as each protest rally is not an unlawful kind of protest where, for example, everyone marches without a stitch of clothing on and little children are able to see them. You can go to 1000 protests and march around the block, but it's the BEHAVIOR and type of activities that these new laws are designed to limit or eliminate altogether.
In the U.S., during the "Occupy Wall Street" rallies, those OWS people were pigs. They messed up their areas, defecated and urinated on police cars and in the streets, at least one woman was raped in her tent, etc. etc. Disgraceful.


Jeanie Anderson 06.07.2014 23:27

freeworldlogic two 06.07.2014 13:18

The 'repeated offense' is going to a protest more than once...
Russia continues to stifle the voices of its people out of fear from the people if they turn to Russian corruption and Putin's kleptocracy.


no no noooo...I don't think you understand what they mean. It's not going to a legally approved 'rally' that is the problem. The article specifically states, "repeated violations at rallies and marches". Violating local and state laws regarding BEHAVIOR such as hooliganism, vandalism, accosting bystanders, and making a nuisance of oneself in general.

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