Government Proposes to Soften the Law on Rallies

August 8, 2013
Фото: Рамиль Ситдиков / РИА Новости

The Russian government submitted to the State Duma a bill specifying the responsibility for violations during mass rallies. The text of the document was published on August 7 on the government website.

The amendments would clarify the conditions whereby a rally organizers should be responsible for the harm caused by the participants of the event. According to the government, they should be responsible only in the event of violation of rules and procedures of organizing mass events.

The Government also proposed to authorize courts to impose sanctions below a statutory lower limit (i.e., a fine of 10,000 roubles). Thus, courts will be able to “take better account of the nature of the offense and the financial situation of the offender”.

The bill proposes to exclude from the Administrative Code the articles related to offenses committed at public events, certain types of punishment such as community service.

The bill was drafted by the Ministry of Justice to implement the decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation dated February 14, 2013. The Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional several provisions of the law on rallies.

The law on meetings was adopted at the initiative of the “United Russia” [political party] in the summer of 2012, after clashes on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow between opposition supporters and police. The amendments significantly increased the penalties for the participants and organizers of mass events. In particular, large fines were introduced, and the organizers of the rallies were held responsible for violations committed by participants. The law was heavily criticized by the opposition and human rights activists.