Russia passes controversial protest bill


Russian riot policemen detain an opposition supporter during a rally in central Moscow on May 8, 2012. Over 400 people have been detained in the past 48 hours for protesting Dmitry Medvedev's candidacy as President Vladimir Putin's premier and Putin's reelection, after a British human rights report criticized Russia's record on freedom of assembly.



Russian lawmakers have adopted a contentious bill that ramps up fines for protesters taking part in illegal rallies, the Associated Press reported.

More from GlobalPost: 20 arrested as parliament debates controversial rally bill

The bill was easily passed by the parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, just hours after going through the State Duma, or lower house, on its third reading.

The opposition Just Russia party successfully stalled the bill’s passage by calling for votes on hundreds of amendments, Agence France Presse reported, but after 11 hours of debate, it was finally pushed through.

The bill, backed by the ruling United Russia party, must now be signed into law by the President, Vladimir Putin.

It raises the penalty for those participating in unsanctioned protests from 2,000 rubles to 300,000 rubles, or about 9,000 dollars, AP reported.

More from GlobalPost: When the BRICs crumble

The NGO Human Rights Watch has criticized the measure, saying it will severely hinder the Russian people’s right to peaceful assembly.