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Russian parliament approves harsh bill on protests

By Vladimir Isachenkov

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 5 2012 2:10 p.m. MDT

Russian police detain protesters outside the parliament building in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. At least two dozen people have been detained outside Russian Parliament in Moscow as they were protesting against a bill on public rallies. The Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament is expected to pass a legislation on Tuesday that would raise fines 200-fold for taking part in unsanctioned rallies. Opposition leaders say that the law would also exacerbate tensions in the Russian society and leave the public with no free leeway of expressing their discontent.

Misha Japaridze, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

MOSCOW — The Russian parliament has approved a bill that raises fines 150-fold for people taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

Opposition activists fear the measure could undermine the movement against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The bill passed Tuesday would jack up fines from the current 2,000 rubles to 300,000 rubles ($9,000). The potential punishment is more severe than for many other crimes, including even violations in the storage of nuclear materials.

Putin's United Russia party has a majority in the 450 seat parliament. The bill passed 241-147 in the final vote. It still requires approval by the upper house and Putin's signature, but both steps are formalities

The Kremlin wants the new bill become law by next Tuesday when the opposition plans a new massive protest in Moscow.

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