- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Thursday imposing penalties on organizers accused of letting children younger than 18 participate in unsanctioned protests, further tightening Moscow’s restrictions on freedom of assembly.

Proposed in May and passed by the Russian legislature last week, the law amends Article 20.02 of the federal government’s Code of Administrative Offenses to establish fines for involving minors in any “unauthorized meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picketing.”

Organizers convicted of violating the Kremlin’s newest anti-protest law risk penalties including up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to 50,000 rubles, or roughly $720; officials and organizations found guilty face fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($1,440) and 500,000 rubles ($7,200), respectively.

The law is the latest in a series of steps taken by Moscow to limit freedom of assembly and speech across Russia under Mr. Putin’s rule. Efforts to penalize protest organizers for holding events attended by minors emerged in light of opposition leader Alexei Navalny leading several anti-Kremlin rallies in recent years widely attended by younger participants.

Russia banned unsanctioned protests under Mr. Putin, and Mr. Navalny has been repeatedly jailed in connection with organizing rallies critical of the president’s policies.

“We cannot leave unpunished the actions of those who incite our young people, our children to commit unlawful actions, violate the law,” one of the bill’s authors, Evgeny Revenko of the United Russia political party, said previously.

Mr. Navlany, 42, previously said the law was written “specifically for me.”

More than 1,000 people were detained by Russian authorities on Sept. 9 as a result of participating in anti-government protests led by Mr. Navalny.

More recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled last month that Russia has repeatedly violated the European Convention of Human Rights by denying dozens of permit applications filed by members of the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community wishing to hold rallies.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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