Russian lawmakers pass controversial protest bill
Russia’s upper house on Wednesday adopted a controversial bill that would greatly increase fines for opposition protesters, hours after the lower house approved the measure in a stormy midnight vote.
The Federation Council passed the bill with 132 in favour, one voteagainst and one abstention. It now just needs to be signed byPresident Vladimir Putin to become law.
The rubber-stamp vote in the upper house was a stark contrast to the marathon debate on the bill in the lower house, the State Duma, the previous day which ended in the bill only being passed around midnight.
In a highly unusual move, an opposition party in the State Duma had deliberately stalled the passing of the bill by calling for votes on hundreds of amendments. It was finally passed at the third reading by 241-147.
The bill, backed by ruling party United Russia, will hike the maximum penalty for organisers of illegal protests to one million rubles ($32,100), while participants could be fined up to 300,000 rubles ($9,000).