Ruling party MP seeks to ban foreigners from Russian rallies

RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov
A United Russia lawmaker has drafted a bill that bans foreign citizens from participation in any opinion-forming public events, such as street rallies and marches.

The main objective of the motion is to step up public security and order during various mass events, MP Evgeny Fyodorov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

The bill introduces limitations of foreign citizens’ presence at events dedicated to formation and expression of opinions and also their participation in forwarding demands on various issues of the political, economic and cultural life of our country and its foreign policy,” Fyodorov told reporters.

He added that if the bill is passed it could help to prevent provocations during mass political rallies and subsequent civil unrest.

Russia introduced the law regulating mass street events in June 2012. Since then, several amendments have been added, tightening the responsibility for violations but also allowing for unlicensed protests in dedicated places which the mass media dubbed ‘Hyde Parks’.

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In April last year, MPs from the ruling party and the center-left Fair Russia drafted a bill that introduced additional punishment for repeated violations of the law on rallies, saying there is a need to protect citizens from ‘professional’ protesters. This motion has not yet made it into law.

A major public opinion poll conducted in August 2014 showed that Russians’ readiness to take part in protest actions had plunged to an all-time low. Only 12 percent of respondents said they considered mass political protests possible and the share of those who are ready to personally take part in them was even lower, at 7 percent.

The proportion of Russians who allow the possibility of protests over the economic and social situation in the country was slightly higher at 17 percent, but only 8 percent of citizens claimed they a willingness to take part in such rallies personally.