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    Posted January 26, 2013 by

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    Runners, bearing portraits of political prisoners, detained in Moscow.


    The Russian State Duma (Parliament) has been incredibly productive during the last 12 months. It has produced a copious amount of legislation, sometimes in a matter of a few days. Duma representatives do not seem to be bothered by the fact, that a number of new laws are in direct contradiction with the Constitution of RF, and/or with basic human rights. The right for peaceful assembly is all but banned outright by one of the recent laws, although it is still present in the 31st article of the Constitution. It is notoriously difficult to get an approval for a public protest or event, if it even hints at political flavor, opposing to the Kremlin’s. Of course, the story is quite different, if the theme of the gathering is expressively pro-Kremlin, pro-Putin or anti-opposition. Yesterday, when people were kissing in front of Duma, while protesting a new law, banning homosexual propaganda, and xenophobic elements were trying to harass and beat them up, over 20 kissing types were arrested and only a few violent ones.


    And even approval does not guarantee that participants would not get a chance to be arrested. Equally, non-gatherings and non-protests can attract attention of the police. Today, for example, 8 runners were detained for a few hours. The total of 20 runners were participating, it is a mystery why those 8 were singled out. This story has a relatively happy ending, after a few hours, the detained were released, although they were charged with violating regulations on public assembly and will be fined the amount of $665. That did not dampen their spirits, as they gathered again and took a picture under a slogan “Liberty!”


    Political prisoners, who graced their t-shirts, are faring worse. Segey Krivov held a 40 day hunger strike, protesting unfounded charges of public disturbance during May 6 demonstration. 20 more people are facing similar charges. Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are serving 2 year sentences for singing against Putin in church. Thanks to the runners their fate was in the spotlight again.


    Photo by George Malets, Alexander Sharov

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