This week, the Russian parliament approved a controversial bill which will significantly restrict the right to demonstrate. Under the new law, individuals who take part in unauthorized protests could face maximum penalties of 300,000 rubles (€7,400 or $9,300) or 200 hours of community service, while organizations could face fines of up to 1 million rubles. The fines are a massive increase over the previous penalties.
Putin is expected to sign the bill into law by next Tuesday, a public holiday when the opposition plans to hold a major demonstration in Moscow. Critics accused United Russia of curtailing freedoms. One Communist Party politician told the Associated Press that the law would "destroy the social peace and deepen the divide in the society."
The law may have an unintended effect, though. Some observers predicted that it will actually encourage more people to take to the streets, outraged at the attack on their rights.
Oh, thank goodness, we live in Canada where authoritarianism like Putin's would never be tolerated.