EU concerned over new Russian rally law
BRUSSELS, June 13 - RAPSI. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has expressed concern over the newly adopted Russian law toughening liability for the organizers of and participants in rallies and mass protest demonstrations.
In Ashton's view, these steps restrict possibilities for holding rallies. In fact, the legislation should first and foremost guarantee the freedom of assembly, her press service noted.
She has urged the Russian authorities to cooperate with European institutions and bring the law into compliance with the European standards.
On June 5, the State Duma passed the draft law and the Federation Council approved it the following day. The draft was then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
The law has increased fines for violating rally procedures by ten times, stipulated compulsory community service for violators and prohibited the wearing of masks at protests. The maximum fine has risen to 300,000 rubles ($9,200) for private individuals and to 600,000 rubles ($18,400) for public officials.
The new law also cracks down on unauthorized rallies by prohibiting any mass actions organized under the guise of mass gatherings or so-called "people's promenades", should they cause any public unrest.
Many Russian politicians and politologists believe that the law is not repressive and corresponds to European standards. Political scientist Dmitry Orlov, for example, holds that it guarantees the right to peaceful assemblies and rallies, while Deputy Head of the Plekhanov Economic Institute, politologist Sergei Markov, maintains that the law fully meets the European legal requirements.
However, experts of the presidential council for human rights have stressed in their report on the law that it runs counter to the Constitution.