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Russia Limits Right to Protest, UN Condemns Oakland Police

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Issue: 17 Section: International News Geography: USA, Russia Topics: police

April 6, 2004

Russia Limits Right to Protest, UN Condemns Oakland Police

The initial approval of a bill that would prohibit protest outside most government buildings, foreign embassies and offices of international organizations in Russia sparked angry responses from opposition groups. Most support for the bill came from representatives from Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, which controls well over two thirds of the seats in the State Duma. Proponents called the bill a step in the fight against terrorism, and said it was intended to protect citizens.

Opponents dismissed the justifications. "Every country that wants to crack down on democracy uses security as an excuse," said Vladimir Slivyak, the co-chairman of the Ecodefense environment group. "This is a mockery of the rights and freedoms that are written into the Constitution," Communist Deputy Viktor Tyulkin added.

After two additional readings, the bill--officially known as the law on gatherings, meetings, demonstrations, processions and pickets--will be voted on before it is submitted to President Putin to be signed into law.

Civil rights advocates have condemned similar measures in the US in recent years. While official bans have not been legislated, protesters at appearances of George W. Bush have been relegated to "free speech zones".

The Oakland Police Department recently came under fire from the UN Commission on Human Rights for excessive violence against anti-war protesters. Two activists were seriously injured after the Oakland Police fired wooden plugs and shot-filled beanbags at protesters at a protest days after the US invasion of Iraq.

» Moscow Times: Duma Bill Sharply Restricts Rallies

» Oakland Tribune: Report: U.N. cites police for being too forceful at rally

» Infoshop: "There's Very Little Democracy Left in the Country Right Now"

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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