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EU 'Concerned' About Russian Protest Bill

Under new parliamentary legislation, Russians who protest without a permit could face much larger financial penalties.
The European Union has voiced misgivings about a bill approved by the Russian parliament which will result in a manifold increase in the amount people can be fined for participating in illegal protests.

On June 7, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's spokeswoman, Maja Kocijanic, said the bloc was "concerned about the possible implications of this bill [which increases fines for rally violations], many of which have already been underlined by many Russian politicians, journalists, and civil society actors."

The bill stipulates fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,000) for participants in illegal protests.

Opponents of the legislation say it is intended to stifle dissent against Vladimir Putin, who last month began a third presidential term.

Putin has not yet signed the bill.

Kocijanic did not explicitly call on him not to sign it.

With reporting by AFP and dpa