Saturday, 9 June 2012
Law and order or anarchy for today's Russia?
Campgrounds in city centers, mass gatherings in parks and squares, spontaneous demonstrations, multi-day protests, rallies reminiscent of pickets without notification of the authorities and, most importantly, zero responsibility for the organizers of any disturbances. This scenario that could be the envy of the demonstrators of early 1990s was suggested by "Just Russia" that presented an alternative draft law on liability for violations during demonstrations to the State Duma. The document, as it turns out, was designed by the "brain trust of the authorities," the Committee for Civil Initiatives" of Alexei Kudrin in collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Development. The alternative bill was offered for the consideration of the parliamentarians by the parties interested in such liberties - regular participants and organizers of the protests of non-systemic opposition MPs Ilya Ponomarev and Dmitry Gudkov. As noted on the site of the Committee of Civic Initiatives, the bill "takes into account human rights initiatives, to guarantee the freedom of participants in mass actions, and reasonable proposals aimed at tightening the responsibility for truly serious offenses." The authors who introduced the bill, in particular, want to secure the possibility of alternative forms of meetings - such as campgrounds and mass gatherings. The bill also proposed to allow spontaneous and multi-day rallies and pickets of 2-3 people without notice. They also suggest lifting the responsibility of the organizers for those actions that they cannot control. This, as stated in the document, is the excess number of participants and ensuring order. In addition, Ponomarev and Gudkov are in favor of the fines in the range of 5,000 rubles for those who have violated the law, and against the introduction of compulsory work, as provided for in the bill adopted in the first reading. Ponomarev, lobbying Kudrin's bill, constantly refers to the common European legislation on the meetings and rallies that, in fact, is only a declaration and, of course, is not enforced in any European country. However, as the Member of Parliament told reporters, the bill can be rejected because the alternative bill completely changes the concept of the already adopted one. In this case, the party will insist that its bill is treated as a separate bill. However, given that in parallel the MPs are trying to block the adoption of the law of the "United Russia" to increase penalties for meetings (in just one day Ponomarev and Gudkov, trying to stall the work of the Duma, made four hundred amendments), the proposed bill is likely to be rejected. Commenting on the bill introduced by Fair Russia, Director General of National Energy Security Fund Konstantin Simonov said that on the one hand, of course, people cannot be forbidden to go out and express their disagreement, but on the other hand they are not to be allowed to create chaos. "If it turns into a massacre with the police and throwing stones, when the campgrounds paralyze city life, I do not think this is the right approach," the political analyst said in an interview with "Pravda.Ru." "We know that in Western countries there are quite rigid rules about campgrounds. When Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to erect campgrounds near the financial center in the USA they were immediately dispersed in the most severe form, the participants were subjected to administrative and criminal penalties," the expert said.Referring to the fact that the bill was developed in collaboration with the Committee of Civil Initiatives, he said that Kudrin is trying to break into the opposition leaders. "But he has not managed to do it yet, so he is mimicking, trying to show that he is with the protesters," said the political analyst, noting that a politician at the post of Minister of Finance "is unlikely to be happy about such ideas." Meanwhile, the bill of the "United Russia" that caused much debate has changed significantly after the public hearings. Thus, the first version of the document is intended to increase the penalty for the organizers of mass rallies to 1.5 million rubles, and for ordinary members to a million rubles, while in the second reading the fine amount was significantly decreased. The newly proposed limit for the citizens is 10 to 20 thousand rubles, 15 - 30 thousand rubles for the officials and 50 or more thousand for legal entities. On Wednesday, the relevant committee for constitutional legislation proposed a number of amendments and significantly lowered the minimum penalty. "We see that the law has become much more liberal, and the requirements of our opposition were taken into account," said in this regard Konstantin Simonov.