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Authorities can’t ban protests by simply citing lack of security plan from organizers – court

Authorities can’t ban protests by simply citing lack of security plan from organizers – court
Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled that local authorities may not ban public events on erroneous security grounds. The ruling said it is their job to ensure safety by deploying police, medics, and firefighters as necessary.

The Russian law regulating public gatherings has come under criticism from opposition activists who say it’s too restrictive and gives the authorities undue leeway to ban protests that it doesn’t want to take place. The Tuesday ruling closed a loophole that could be used to deny permission for rallies and demonstrations.

The court was reviewing a complaint by a public activist whose applications for two public gatherings were rejected without consideration in 2018 by the city council of Irkutsk. The city said the organizer failed to explain how he intends to ensure the safety of the participants. The forms only listed the phone numbers of city services that could be called in case of emergency.

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The court ruling said the city acted unlawfully when it simply dismissed the applications. It said that while it is true that the organizers of public events have some responsibility, it is still mostly up to the authorities to ensure safety and coordinate with the people behind the event as needed.

“Even if the relevant executive body believes that the suggested forms and methods for providing safety do not comply with the requirements of the challenged law, under no circumstances does it relieve it from the duty to consider the submitted application,” the court stated.

It also issued instructions to Russian courts on how to properly deliberate complaints from people, whose applications for rallies had been rejected.

Justice Sergey Knyazev said the decision he and his fellow judges made was a signal to the authorities to negotiate with people organizing a demonstration over how best to conduct it and “not attempt to find pretexts and reasons for it not to happen,” according to Forbes Russia.

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