A group of Russian lawmakers have submitted a new bill that would further restrict citizens’ right to hold peaceful demonstrations and protest rallies.
The bill amending the law on mass gatherings, registered with the State Duma late on June 9, envisages banning rallies near official buildings and vital infrastructure, at universities, hospitals, and religious and pilgrimage sites. It also would forbid them “where a ban will be justified by historic, cultural, or other objective attributes of the region.”
The bill also fully bans the organization of protest actions by groups or individuals labeled as “foreign agents.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, authorities across Russia refused to allow protest rallies citing COVID-19 restrictions. Many organizers and participants of rallies against the arrest of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny were subsequently charged and found guilty of violating sanitary regulations, with most handed suspended parole-like sentences or prison terms.
The draft bill comes after several rallies were held in Moscow and other cities to protest against Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.