In a feeble attempt to quite dissenters, the Kremlin unanimously passed legislation that would increase the punishments for protestors who “violate public order”. The move was pushed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin who has been the subject of public outcry since he returned to power. Unfortunately the legislation is expected to have unintended blowback and increase public protest against Putin’s reign. According to Reuters:
“Although the aim is to discourage protests against Putin, who has dominated Russia for 12 years, some of his critics said the law could unintentionally fuel opposition.
‘I was still debating whether or not to go (to the Moscow rally) on June 12. Now there is only one possible choice,’ psychologist and blogger Yulia Rubleva said.
Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Kremlin’s human rights’ council, said the bill could violate the constitutional right to free assembly.
‘If this amendment governing demonstrations casts doubt on the real constitutional right of citizens to gather peacefully, without weapons, there is a real threat that it will serve only to radicalize the protests,’ he told Reuters.
Communist Party deputy Anatoly Lokot said the protest mood will only grow.
‘This law is deepening the gulf that separates the people from the Russian president,’ he said, adding that ‘instead of dialogue’ the authorities were ‘brandishing a truncheon’.
Police largely left alone the mostly middle-class crowds who protested against Putin’s 12-year rule this winter but beat protesters and detained hundreds at a rally in Moscow on May 6, one day before Putin’s inauguration.
Some young professionals who have been regulars at the protests, some of which involved just singing songs or walking through parks dressed in white, say they have lost their jobs.
‘They thought they would discourage the protests by arresting people like me, who had never before been detained, but they only poured fuel on the fire,’ said Alisa Obraztsova, a 24-year-old lawyer.”