Lev Ponomarev: "The system is increasingly protecting itself from all possibility of dialogue with society." On the proposal of the Supreme Court to equate pickets to rallies

posted 2 Jul 2018, 06:51 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Jul 2018, 07:02 ]
21 June 2018 

By Anna Begiashvili

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: The Insider

The Plenum of the Supreme Court has proposed equating individual pickets taking place at the same time with unsanctioned rallies. The proposed resolution has not yet been adopted and is being finalized by a special group. According to the draft text of the resolution, organisers of single pickets which take place at the same time should bear administrative responsibility for violating the established procedure for arranging or conducting a rally. (Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code). 

The leader of the movement "For Human Rights", a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lev Ponomarev, has spoken about why the resolution will be adopted without much contention.

Law enforcement agencies and the judiciary are a single mechanism, aimed at repressing citizens in the event that they show some kind of activity and act as opponents of the State. Within the confines of the repressive machinery, this decision is completely logical and long expected. The system is increasingly protecting itself from all possibility of dialogue with society.

I’ve spent decades in this field and know of not one case where an official was punished for hindering the holding of a rally. Judges always take the side of the authorities in the country, the side of the officials. Courts rarely rule in favour of acquittals. If we look separately at courts that hear cases on unsanctioned rallies, then the level of acquittals will be 0%. If we look at the totality of judicial practice, there may have been ten such cases. In Moscow this never happens. Officials can come up with all sorts of rubbish when looking at the legality of holding a rally. They always manage to stop them.

This resolution will be adopted without question and this will reduce the possibility of mass protests. Of course when individual pickets take place en masse they are usually united by a common idea. Now these will be broken up by the police.

At the moment, individual pickets are allowed without prior approval in Russia, if the participant does not intend to use a ‘prefabricated collapsible construction’. Participants must be at a certain distance from one another. The distance varies depending on the region but the minimum should not exceed 50 metres.

Translated by Matthew Quigley