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.