In a move to rein in the opposition, the new bill raises fines for joining unsanctioned rallies from a maximum of 5,000 rubles ($160) now to 1 million rubles ($32,250).
Its authors also suggested introducing a punishment for any mass public gathering even if it lacks the formal signs of a political protest. That was a clear response to the creative new demonstrations popping up in Moscow, where participants leave their slogans and posters at home and walk silently so their actions don’t formally count as rallies.
One of the bill’s authors, Alexander Sidyakin, said protest organizers should also be sentenced to public service. “They should be given brooms to clean the mess left after their violations,” he said.
Communist lawmaker Valentin Romanov said during the debate in parliament that the Kremlin wants new sanctions against protesters in anticipation of anger against upcoming unpopular social reforms.
“It’s a pre-emptive move preceding a rise in social protests across the country,” he said.
Because of term limits, Mr. Putin spent four years in the premier’s seat after already serving two consecutive terms as president from 2000 to 2008. Despite the title change, he remained Russia’s No. 1 leader all along. His protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, stepped down to allow Mr. Putin to reclaim the presidency, receiving the premiership in exchange.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, speaking on Rossiya 24 television, described the former ministers given new jobs Tuesday in the Kremlin as the real Russian government, dismissing Mr. Medvedev’s Cabinet as a decorative one.
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