x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Russia set to hit protesters with heavier fines

The upper chamber of Russia's parliament approved a bill yesterday that raises fines 150-fold for people taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

MOSCOW // The upper chamber of Russia's parliament approved a bill yesterday that raises fines 150-fold for people taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

The much-debated legislation now needs only the president's signature to become law.

The bill would increase fines from 2,000 roubles to 300,000 roubles (Dh34,000).

It is seen as a response to a series of massive anti-government protests and an attempt to discourage further street protests challenging the pesident, Vladimir Putin.

The Federation Council voted 132-1 to support the bill after a short debate. In the lower chamber on Tuesday, legislators discussed it for 11 hours before the pro-Kremlin United Russia party rammed it through at midnight.

The opposition factions in the State Duma put forward several hundred amendments in an unprecedented attempt to stymie the bill's passage, reflecting a new willingness to stand up to the Kremlin.

Sergei Lisovsky, one of the few Federation Council members to express concerns about the bill, said it imposes disproportionally high fines on protesters but does not provide for higher penalties against police brutality.

"We're talking about citizens of our country here, and we must listen to them," said Mr Lisovsky.

The Kremlin wants the bill to become law by Tuesday, when the opposition plans a major protest in Moscow.