Russian ruling party wants tough penalties for protesters

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Lawmakers from Russia’s ruling United Russia party have proposed stiffer penalties for protest organisers and participants, including a steep increase in the fine and sentencing of violators to community service.

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Under their proposal, the maximum fine for the offence would increase from 2,000 rubles ($70) to 100,000 rubles ($3,300), while administrative arrest — currently up to 15 days in jail — would be replaced by community service ranging from 20 to 200 hours.

“If there is an appropriate alternative to custody, the court will not put them (protesters) behind bars, but will set them to work pushing a broom,” said Alexander Sidyakin, author of the proposal and United Russia party member who submitted the bill to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

He said that “if violators receive substantial fines and are put to work, there would be no false illusions concerning the pseudo heroism of detainees”.

Russia has faced a wave of protests following the December parliamentary elections which were allegedly rigged in favour of United Russia. The rallies continued after the March 4 presidential elections that brought to power the current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.