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Russia: Reject Restrictions on Peaceful Assembly

WASHINGTON - The upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, has today endorsed with unusual speed a set of restrictive amendments to the law on public rallies and the administrative code. The State Duma, or lower parliamentary chamber, had adopted the amendments in both their second and third (final) readings on June 5. The bill will become law after signature by President Vladimir Putin.

According to media reports, a source in the Russian president’s office explained the rapid endorsement as reflecting the Kremlin’s desire to have the restrictive amendments in place before June 12, when opposition parties are planning to hold a mass protest rally. By rushing through the adoption of these amendments, which create serious obstacles for the right to freedom of assembly, the Russian parliament ignored both a critical evaluation of the draft law by Russia’s presidential Human Rights Council and appeals by Russian and international human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch said.

“President Putin’s rush to have this new piece of legislation adopted at the start of his presidency demonstrates disregard both for freedom of assembly and Russian civil society,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe & Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch called on Russia’s international partners, especially the European Union and the United States, to urge President Putin to prove otherwise by vetoing these legislative changes, which violate Russia’s international legal obligations.


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