June 11th, 2012

Surge in fines for protesting

This one is bad for the economy and bad for freedom.

Just in time for Tuesday’s mass opposition protests that coincide with the annual Russia Day holiday, Vladimir Putin has approved a new law that increases the maximum fines for protest-related offenses to up to 300,000 rubles ($9,200). (Over the weekend a number of opposition leaders had their houses raided.)

In addition to raising the fines for private citizens almost 100 times what they were, the legislation also allows judges to sentence protesters to up to 200 hours of community service, bars protesters from wearing masks and forbids anyone with a criminal record from organizing a demonstration.

Despite admonitions from the Kremlin’s Presidential Council on Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to veto the law, Putin demurred, saying it does not violate European norms.

No matter, says the opposition. Thousands of protesters are still planning on demonstrating Tuesday.

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