Crimea occupation regime toughens peaceful assembly rules
The puppet government in the Crimea has adopted a law imposing new rules on holding protests and other mass actions on the peninsula. The law largely follows the analogous Russian law and considerably narrows the rights of Crimean residents.
The law ‘On meetings, rallies, demonstrations, processions and pickets in the republic of the Crimea’ was adopted at its first reading at an extraordinary session on July 9.
One of the most restrictive points is that notification of a planned rally etc must be provided in writing no more than 15 days but no less than 10 days before the event. Even a planned picket must be warned about three full days in advance.
The notification must indicate: the purpose; the form that the public event will take; the place or route that an event will take; date, beginning and end times; predicted number of participants; forms and means of ensuring public order; organization of medical assistance; and plans to use amplifiers; full name, address and contact number of the organizer; information about the lack of any restrictions under Article 5 paragraph 2 of the Russian law.
The notification is signed by the organizer and others authorized by the organizer to help organize and run the event.
The organizer must provide ID and information indicating among other things that they have Russian citizenship.
There are specific rules on pickets, these concerning the number of people permissible and the place where they stand. People holding single person pickets (often used in Russia where other bigger gatherings are banned) must be 50 metres apart from each other.
Radio Svoboda’s Crimean Service reports that civic activists from the Crimea say that the law significantly reduces people’s rights.
Oleksandra Dvoretska from the Action Human Rights Centre points out thtat whether Ukrainian legislation demands only notification, the system based on the Russian law has a huge number of administrative mechanisms for hampering people’s rights.
She says that the Crimean authorities are acting in a crafty manner and not mentioning sanctions and bans on meetings, but there is always the extreme point in the articles “as envisaged by federal legislation”.
She notes that since June the penalties in Russia for so-called ‘infringements’ have become much more stringent. As reported here, a person who has incurred administrative penalties more than twice in half a year could face imprisonment for up to 5 years for analogous actions. The fines have also become much more draconian. There are plans underway to criminalize ‘repeat offences’.
Dvoretska also suspects that other restrictions are planned. She notes that the Crimean version of the law speaks of ‘places specially set aside for meetings’ without specifiying what these are. These are likely to be defined in other normative acts, she believes.
Perhaps most worrying are the words about documents indicating that a person has Russian citizenship. Dvoretska says that this is not clear and believes it is likely to be used to put pressure on Ukrainian nationals (including very many Crimean Tatars) in the Crimea.
If passed in its second reading, the law will come into force 10 days after its official publication. However, the authorities have been citing the analogous Russian law over the last month.