Russian Rally Law Pushes Protesters Abroad

Opposition supporters in Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad said they will hold protests in neighboring Poland because they cannot afford the new fines for political rallies in Russia.

A bill tightening rules for public events, which sets up fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,000) for protesters, was fast-tracked by the federal legislature and is expected to be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin this week.

As a result, the local opposition will hold its next rally in Poland to demand more kindergartens for Kaliningrad, activist of the regional branch of the Yabloko opposition party, Viktor Gorbunov, said on Thursday.

The event will likely take place on some weekend in June, Gorbunov said. Many Kaliningrad residents spend their days off in Poland.

None of the 45 pickets in the past against the lack of kindergartens in Kaliningrad, staged jointly by Yabloko and the Communist Party, were sanctioned by local authorities, Gorbunov said.

But they only cost the unsanctioned protesters 1,000 rubles each in fines, an amount that may now be 300 times higher and unaffordable for the activists, Gorbunov said.

The bill on rallies follows months of mass street protests in Moscow, the latest of which turned violent last month. Many political analysts said the legislation is the Kremlin’s attempt to suppress the protest drive.


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