Moscow, June 5 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The lower house of Russian parliament in its final hearing Tuesday approved a controversial law that greatly increases the maximum fine for participating in or organising unsanctioned protests.
At per the new bill, fines for the organisers of protests that fail to comply with federal regulations on demonstrations shoot up from 50,000 rubles ($1,160) to 1.5 million rubles ($48,000). Those who are unable to pay the fines will be ordered to perform community service.
The law also bars anyone with a criminal record from organising protests.
The new fines were proposed by deputies from the ruling United Russia party in the wake of clashes between police and protestors at a downtown Moscow rally on the eve of Vladimir Putin's May 7 inauguration as president for a third term.
The bill was fast-tracked through parliament ahead of an anti-Putin rally planned for Moscow June 12. It will become law if, as expected, it is approved by the upper house of parliament Wednesday.
The original draft bill of the law envisioned an increase in the maximum fine for individuals participating in illegal demonstrations from the current 5,000 rubles ($160) to 1,000,000 rubles ($30,000). But opposition party objections and public pressure saw the maximum proposed fine fall to 300,000 rubles ($9,600).
Police arrested some 20 protestors outside the State Duma as lawmakers discussed the bill. Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal opposition party Yabloko, was one of those detained at the rally, which drew several dozen people, police said.