MOSCOW, June 19 (RIA Novosti)
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- Kremlin Rights Experts Lambast Rally Law
- Russian Rally Law Pushes Protesters Abroad
- Protest Law Brings Discussion Back to Duma
Want to buy a loaf of bread in the company of your friends? In Russia, that may well turn out to be illegal, following a decision by authorities in the central Nizhny Novgorod city to ban just such an enterprise.
"The March for the Loaf" - the smartest challenge yet to a new controversial law that sharply increases fines for breaking laws governing protests - "did not meet" statute specifications, the city government said.
But Andrei Rudoy, an activist of the opposition Left Front movement who applied for official permission to hold the rally, was undeterred by the rebuff, writing on his LiveJournal blog on Monday that some 15 more requests had already been filed, including one for waiting for the bus.
"Frankly, I'm becoming more and more convinced that this [government] system is in its essence inadequate," Rudoy wrote, calling on activists in other parts of Russia to join in on his tactic. "Let's play along with the lunatics behind the Kremlin walls some more."
The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin ahead of a massive June 12 Moscow demonstration against his rule, raises the maximum fines for protest-related offences from the current 5,000 rubles ($154) to 300,000 ($9,200) for participants and 600,000 rubles ($18,400) for officials.
The vastly increased fines were proposed by deputies from the ruling United Russia party in the wake of clashes between police and demonstrators at a downtown Moscow rally on the eve of Putin's May 7 inauguration for a third term in the Kremlin.
The Nizhny Novgorod admninistration could not be reached for comment.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.