Harassment of activists: demonstrators fined for wearing ordinary scarves and hoods

30 January 2013 

Source: HRO.org (info
Participants in December’s “March of Freedom” in Chelyabinsk are to pay fines for attending the rally in scarves and hoods. The court ruled that citizens protecting themselves from the frost broke the law which bans demonstrators from hiding their faces. 

Chelyabinsk’s central district court upheld the decision that the participants in the “March of Freedom” must pay the sum of ten thousand roubles. The demonstration took place on 15th December 2012 in the city of Chelyabinsk, in Alom Field by the Lenin memorial RIA Ura.ru reports. The fines were levied in accordance with the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation which lays down that citizens at events like these must not cover their faces. 

Participants in the rally tried to prove that on that frosty day they were not hiding their faces, but simply wanted to protect themselves from the cold and therefore pulled their scarves and hoods tightly around themselves. But the court was not even persuaded by information from the Hydrometeorological Centre stating that on 15th December 2012 temperatures really were low, Rosbalt reports. 

The “March of Freedom”, held in the middle of December 2012 in Chelyabinsk, was the first demonstration which had the official sanction of the authorities following the passing of amendments to regional legislation on 29th November 2012 that tightened the rules for conducting public events. Approximately 90 people took part in the demonstration. Participants unfurled banners with protest slogans – “Freedom to political prisoners!”, “Free Razvozzhaev!”, “Hands off Navaln!” By the end of the rally five participants who had wrapped their faces in scarves or were wearing hoods had already been detained. They were all released the same day, but were fined several days later.