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Putin Asks Duma To Ease Bill On Protests

26 April 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested that the State Duma water down a controversial new bill that would severely curb the right to public protests.

According to the Kremlin, Putin said the ban should apply only to rallies in front of presidential residencies, courts and prisons, as well as potentially dangerous facilities and in border areas.

Putin had previously been quoted as saying Russia does not need "any unhealthy limits" on protest.

The legislation in its current form would ban demonstrations in front of all government buildings and allow local authorities to set both the time and place of registered rallies.

The bill passed the first of three required readings in the State Duma with support from the pro-Putin Unified Russia party, which holds a two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament. It was opposed by every other party in the Duma.