MOSCOW, June 28 (RIA Novosti)
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Russian human rights veteran Lyudmila Alexeyeva is planning to file for permission to celebrate her 85th birthday in a Moscow café to avoid any conflicts with the law.
“There will be more than 200 guests,” Moscow Helsinki Group head Alexeyeva wrote in her blog, and adding, “People are sure to walk in groups. In such cases police escort is needed.”
“As a law abiding citizen I intend to ask for such escort. Let them accompany my guests from the subway station,” she said, referring to a controversial law passed in early June that has dramatically increased fines for violating laws regulating mass protests.
The law raises fines for violating public rally regulations from 5,000 rubles (around $150) to 300,000 rubles (around $10,000) for participants and up 600,000 rubles ($18,000) for organizers. The bill was introduced after an opposition rally in Moscow on May 6, which ended in protesters clashing with police, and was fast-tracked ahead of an opposition rally that gathered tens of thousands of people in downtown Moscow on Russia Day.
Alexeyeva said her concern was that police might take that for an unauthorized march.
“How will they know what these people are and why they’re marching in columns,” she said, adding that she has read the law and will have her lawyers apply for permission two weeks before the event, July 20.
Alexeyeva has quit the Kremlin's human rights council, along with another 15 members of the advisory body, since December’s controversial parliamentary elections and Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration in May.
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Some people are trying to make the reality in Russia at least a bit more humane. The amnesty should apply not only to persons involved in high-profile cases, but also to individuals who are not as well-known. It is better to set free at least some of the individuals who deserve to be released than no one at all.