MOSCOW, May 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, may pass an anti-protest bill in early 2013 that authorizes $50,000-fines for protest organizers, prompting tougher punishment for the anti-government rallies that has gripped Russia over the last six months.
The bill that seeks to increase the fine for organizing protest rallies to 1.5 million rubles ($50,000) was submitted to the State Duma on Friday by a member of Russia’s ruling United Russia party, Alexander Sidyakin.
“It is likely to be passed during Duma’s spring session in 2013,” Alexander Neverov, a United Russia’s senior party official said, adding that he personally liked the idea of fining protesters in order to get rid of their provocations against police.
“If they want to turn their March of Millions into a riot, they should be ready to pay millions of rubles for this,” Sidyakin said, adding that the ongoing protests cause damage to the city, restrict resident’s freedom of movement and impede people’s leisure activities.
Sidyakin’s proposal comes almost a month after he had already proposed to increase fines for protesters from 2,000 rubles ($70) to 100,000 rubles ($3,300) and introduce community service for the participants of the mass rallies.
Russia has faced waves of protests following the December parliamentary elections which were allegedly rigged in favor of the United Russia party. The rallies continued after the March 4 presidential elections that secured a landslide victory for Vladimir Putin.
Over 400 people were detained as a Moscow protest rally turned violent on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s May 7 presidential inauguration. Some thirty police officers and an unconfirmed number of demonstrators were also injured in the most serious violence since the start of the previously largely peaceful protests against Putin last winter.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hailed the police’s actions, saying that “Protesters should have had their livers smeared on the sidewalk for injuring riot police.”