Russian Duma Passes Bill To Punish Organizers Of Protests That Include Children
By RFE/RL December 18, 2018
The lower chamber of the Russian parliament has passed a bill setting out punishment for people who involve minors in unauthorized protests, rallies, and demonstrations.
In its third and final vote, the State Duma approved legislation under which organizers of unsanctioned public gatherings in which people under the age of 18 participate will face up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($750).
Thousands of teenagers have taken part in antigovernment protests in the past few years, including demonstrations organized by opposition politician and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny.
The bill was submitted to the Duma in May after police in cities across Russia detained more than 1,600 people, some of them teenagers, on the eve of rallies organized by Navalny to protest President Vladimir Putin's May 7 inauguration to his fourth term.
Some critics say the government has overstated the role of children in such protests, and Kremlin opponents fear the legislation could be used to discredit opponents by suggesting they are roping children in and putting them at risk.
In February, Putin called on the Interior Ministry to "vigorously put an end" to the activities of groups that try to engage teenagers to participate in unsanctioned protests.
The bill must be approved by parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, before it is endorsed into law by Putin.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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