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Russian lawmaker submits bill on tightening public demonstration regulations
Source: State Duma

Lawmaker Dmitry Vyatkin from United Russia has submitted two draft laws to Russia’s State Duma on tightening the rules for holding public demonstrations.

The first bill, in particular, proposes prohibiting holding mass events near the buildings of emergency operational services (for example, the police or the FSB), so as not to paralyze their work. The draft law also states that the authorities can postpone or cancel rallies in the event of “an emergency situation, terrorist act, or in the presence of a real threat of their occurence.”

Vyatkin also proposes recognizing “aggregate” single-person demonstrations (solo pickets) as public events, as well as the “rotating participation of several individuals in picketing acts” (picket lines), in addition to the “mass, simultaneous presence or movement of citizens in public places.” 

“The ingenuity of some citizens is at a very high level,” Vyatkin said in a comment to the newspaper Kommersant. “When an organized group is involved, people go and replace one another, we understand perfectly that this is not one person who came out and that this is a mass rally. This means that it needs to be regulated from the point of view of a mass rally. Who are you kidding?”

The document also outlines a ban on journalists covering mass demonstrations from directly participating in and organizing these events.

The second bill proposes banning the organizers of demonstrations from receiving funding from foreign organizations and citizens, Russian citizens under the age of 16, anonymous donors, and legal entities registered less than a year before.

“We must ensure the transparency of financing of public, political activity. It’s no secret to anyone that foreign governments and NGOs allocate impressive sums to support certain political activities in Russia. In fact, this is a form of gross interference in domestic affairs,” Vyatnik explained.