Russian Upper House approves tougher law on public gatherings

Russian car owners protest against excessive use of flashing lights by public servants
Russia’s Federation Council has approved a bill that introduces slightly tougher rules for the organization of rallies and public gatherings.

The Upper House of the parliament approved the bill “On gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and picketing" on Wednesday and now it only needs the president’s signature to be published and come into force.

The new bill was initially vetoed by President Medvedev, who asked the parliament to rewrite it in a more liberal way – the initial version forbade all those who had been punished with administrative measures (such as a fine) to organize public political events. The Lower House complied with the president’s requirements and approved the bill in the fourth reading.

The new bill also establishes that car rallies as a form of protest should be approved by local legislatures and not the executive bodies. This will draw more public attention to the events and will allow the media and NGOs to discuss whether the protests should be allowed.

The 2010 amendments are the first amendments submitted to the federal law on public gatherings since 2004.