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    Posted June 5, 2012 by

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    Why Russian Duma is having a night session?


    Photo by Vladimir Yumatov


    The woman is holding a poster in front of Duma today: Going to a demonstration $10,000, going for a walk $1000, living honestly – priceless.


    Even though it is near 10 PM in Moscow today, June 5th, the Russian Parliament (Duma) is having an unprecedented night session. The ruling party United Russia is in a rush to push through a new law regarding enforced punishments for public protests. They are in a hurry to have this law in place by June 12, when another March of Millions protest is planned in Moscow. Another party, A Just Russia, is trying its best to delay the passing of this unusually harsh law with the help of more than 300 proposed amendments. Controversially, this law is in direct violation of the Constitution’s article 31, granting Russian citizens the right to peacefully gather for the purpose of protest. Under the new law organizations could be fined up to $20,000, citizens up to $10,000 and even participants of spontaneous gatherings can be fined up to $1000. The blogosphere had a fair amount of jokes, that even weddings might become unlawful under the new law, but this is not a laughing matter, because the basic constitutional rights are being violated in front of our eyes. The desire to put in place such costly punishments seems to be a sign of panic among those in power, because since the protest movement for fair elections started last December, a few thousand people have been detained and handed various kinds of punishments, from $30 fines to 15 days in jail. Vladimir Putin has recently said, “we must import into our law the norms of European law, which are used in many European countries while regulating events of this kind”. Ironically, most European laws on this subject are designed to protect people’s right to protest safely. This law is clearly written to prevent people from protesting anything, by hitting them really hard in the wallet.

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