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A Just Russia to Challenge Law on Rallies in Constitutional Court

Source: (info), 06/06/12

· Right of assembly  · The Courts  · Public protests

Representatives of A Just Russia intend to appeal to the Constitutional Court demanding that the law adopted by the State Duma concerning the increase in fines for violations at rallies be revoked if it is approved by the Federation Council and signed by the President, Interfax reports.

As quoted by, Ilya Ponomarev, a member of the Just Russia fraction in the State Duma, said:

"We created an important precedent and forced the State Duma to adopt this law in violation of procedure. Now we have a reason to go to the Constitutional Court and demand that the law be revoked. The reasons for appealing to the Court are beyond question. That is why we will now be preparing a claim to submit to the Constitutional Court, most likely together with the KPRF. The violations were sufficiently crude. There was nothing United Russia could do to counter our tactics except crudely breach regulations."

According to Ponomarev, if the claim is successful the Constitutional Court can order the State Duma to remove the violations that were committed when the bill was passed into law, in practice revoking it.

On 5 June, after a session that lasted many hours, the State Duma approved a bill in second and third readings which proposed increases in fines for violations at rallies. In the second reading, 239 deputies supported the bill with a required minimum of 226 votes; 207 deputies voted against and one abstained. Deputies from A Just Russia walked out of the State Duma in protest after the bill was adopted in the second reading.

In the third and final reading, 241 were in favour of the bill with a required minimum of 226 votes. 147 voted against and there were no abstentions. Deputies from A Just Russia left the chamber in protest. "We'll leave you alone with your anti-national bill," Sergei Mironov, the leader of A Just Russia, told members of the United Russia party.

According to the bill, maximum sanctions for individuals will total 300,000 roubles or 200 hours of compulsory community service. Officials could be fined up to 600,000 roubles and for legal entities fines could be as high as 1,000,000 roubles.

Deputies from A Just Russia introduced more than 350 amendments to the bill on rallies. In this way they were hoping to postpone the bill being passed. "So far the sit-down strike is proving successful, and that is just the beginning," Just Russia deputy Ilya Ponomarev wrote in his blog. He spent 15 minutes reading out amendments. Nearly all the amendments rejected by the specialist Committee had been introduced by A Just Russia.

"All of the amendments from A Just Russia will be considered after the break, from 16:00. If the time-limit is not reduced it will take 20 hours to consider them. If the time is cut back then it will take up nearly 10 hours. Therefore, the Federation Council will most likely not be able to pass the bill tomorrow. Chances of the bill coming into force before 12 June are negligible," Ponomarev told journalists.

Vladimir Pligin, head of the State Duma Constitutional Law Committee, suggested reducing the voting for each amendment to 5 seconds, while Nikolai Kolomeitsev, the KPRF deputy, suggested the opposite. As a result, the State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said that a fixed time limit should be adhered to - 15 seconds per amendment.

Before the break, deputies had time to consider 15 amendments suggested by United Russia. In particular, a new type of punishment - community service - was introduced for violating the rules for carrying out rallies, fines for individuals were increased to 300,000 roubles and for legal entities to 1,000,000 roubles. An amendment was also adopted allowing the organisers of mass rallies not declared as a public event to be identified. In accordance with another of the amendments, demonstrators are not allowed to wear masks, scarves or any other items that would cover their faces.

In adopting the amendments, members of the United Russia party voted on behalf of absent party members. Deputies from KPRF and A Just Russia voted against the amendments. Deputies from the LDPR did not take part in the vote.