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Let us protect Article 31 on the freedom of assembly of the Constitution on June 5!

Open letter by YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin to organisers and participants of street protests

May 31, 2012


To organisers and participants of street protests
at Bolotnaya, Sakharov and Pushkin Squares, Chistiye Prudi, Novy Arbat, the participants of the movements Strategy 31, The White Ribbon, March of the Millions and other protest actions: Boris Akunin, Dmitry Bykov, Genadi Gudkov, Dmitry Gudkov,
Eduard Limonov, Alexei Navalny, Sergei Parkhomenko, Vladimir Ryzhkov,
Lev Ponomarev, Sergei Udaltsov, Yugenia Chirikova and others

Today, on May 31, the day when actions in protection of Article 31 of the Constitution guaranteeing RF citizens the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets are normally held [in Russia].

On this day, I am turning to you calling you to pay very close attention to the amendments prepared by the State Duma to the Administrative Offences Code and Federal Law No 54 "On Assemblies, Rallies, Demonstrations, Processions and Pickets". These amendments are prohibitive and maximally limit the constitutional right of citizens to protests.

Not only do they set high penalties [for the rallies], but also make any form of street activity impossible and broaden the possibilities for abuse by the police providing grounds for absurd accusations.

The maximum margin for a penalty for a citizen will be 300,000 rubles. Parties and public organisations will have pay up to 1 million.

The new law envisages responsibility for the organisation of "mass simultaneous presence of citizens in public places", as well as calls to citizens for such presence.

Participation in a walking protest will const 20,000 rubles, but the calls to join it up to 300,000 roubles. The law maintains compulsory labour [as punishment], although the Constitution prohibits compulsory labour. Responsibility for the exceeding the number of participants of a rally [as of the allowed number of participants] will be up to 50,000 rubles. The Constitutional Court banned it two weeks ago, but this is not an order for the Duma. The law has maintained the norm coming from the first reading of the draft law that anyone, not only the person who applied for holding an action, can be punished as an organiser of this action. Rallies in the places where they interfere with the movement of pedestrians may be banned forever. It is obvious that any rally will interfere with the movement of pedestrians.

The courts stamping their sentences on the basis of fabricated and false accusations by police will ensure an uninterrupted flow of convicts discouraging law-abiding citizens from protests, encouraging aggressive radicals and stimulating the emergence of underground resistance.

We still have a chance to resist these initiatives on June 5 when the Duma will be adopting the amendments in second reading.

Later on it will be too late, and pointless to go to Triumfalnaya square to protest.

It is important and timely to come to the State Duma on June 5.

If we all together fail to revoke the amendments on June 5, then we all will be facing 100,000 rubles penalties already on June 12.

I am urging all of you to come to the State Duma and express a civil protest against the fascist amendments on June 5 at 9 a.m.

Sergei Mitrokhin.
Chairman of the Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO


See also:

YABLOKOs action: toughening of penalties for rallies is a straight way towards a totalitarian state. Press Release, May 27, 2012

Rally against raising of penalties for rallies. Press Release, May 22, 2012

Mitrokhin released without charges, other activists will stand before court. Press Release, May 22, 2012.

Sergei Mitrokhin and activists detained at the "walking protests" by the State Duma
Press Release, May 22, 2012.

Youth YABLOKO to picket the State Duma protesting against raising of fines for rallies
Press Release, May 17, 2012.

Yavlinsky called on the "walking protestors" in St. Petersburg to set political goals. Interfax. May 15, 2012

Human Rights

Freedom of Assembly


May 27, 2012

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