Putin signs law massively increasing fines for peaceful gatherings
It was learned on Friday evening that despite calls from Putin’s own human rights adviser, Mikhail Fedotov, others in Russia and international bodies such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Putin had signed the law increasing fines for people deemed to have infringed public order at meetings.
He claimed that he had studied the laws in the UK, Germany and other EU countries and that there was nothing that was tougher than similar legislation in those countries. He asserted that while Russian citizens should have the right to express their will, they must be protected from radicalism. Mass protests, he asserted, should be organized so as to not cause harm to people not taking part in them. He referred to last year’s riots in the UK, saying that all the culprits had been prosecuted. He did however say that he does not exclude the possibility of some corrections being made to the law.
Journalist Nikolai Svanidze says that it was clear that Putin would sign the law since it was he who initiated it.
Political analyst Dmitry Oreshin (and many others) believes that the bill was hastily voted on and signed before the protest rally against his third term as President on 12 June.
Participants in protests could now face fines of 300, 000 roubles ($9, 100) - more than the average annual salary - and the organisers of such rallies could be fined up to 1 million roubles.
The law comes into effect from its official publication (from Saturday)