New laws restricting the right to peaceful assembly in Russia will affect gay pride marchers, warns human rights group Amnesty International.
President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party’s bill hiking up fines for protesters taking part in unsanctioned rallies was passed through the country’s parliament, the Duma, in a matter of weeks and will become law once he has signed it off.
This means people participating in ‘unsanctioned public meetings’ will be fined up to 30,000 roubles ($900 €720) and up to 50,000 roubles ($1,500 €1,200) if the meeting puts higher-than-expected demands on police resources.
Amnesty’s Russia campaigner, Fried Erike Behr, said: ‘If the amendments are signed into law by President Putin, they will affect pride marchers.
‘Since so far no prides have been authorized in Russia, their organizers and participants could be fined, for example, for “violation of the order of holding a public event” or for “organizing an event without proper notification” or “creating interference to pedestrians or vehicles”.
‘Since often there are counter-protesters at gay prides who attack the participants, organizers potentially could be fined for “actions or inactions causing injuries to people or damage to property” etc.
‘As well as hefty fines, there are provisions regarding community service. There are also a number of other restrictions in this law on the freedom of peaceful assembly.’
Amnesty’s director of Europe and Central Asia John Dalhuisen said: ‘The speed with which this law has been passed suggested that it is not aimed at regulating a respected right but is rather a short-sighted response to growing public protest.’
The draft law has been criticized by Russian lawyers, human rights activists and some politicians.
Gay rights campaigner Nikolay Alekseev has said he will go as to the European Court of Human Rights to get the decision overturned if necessary.