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Putin Increases Penalties For 'Illegal' Street Rallies

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed several laws on July 22, increasing liability for separatism and violation of regulations for holding rallies.

The Kremlin's website said on July 22 that the new penalty for separatist calls will be a fine of between 10,000 and 30,000 rubles ($285 and $855).

The maximum punishment for the felony will be imprisonment of up to four years.

Previous legislation had a penalty of three years in jail.

Publicly calling for separatism on the Internet, or by using online resources, will be punished by up to 480 hours of community service and a maximum of five years in jail.

There was previously no punishment for online calls for separatism.

The Kremlin's unrecognized annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March has sparked numerous critical articles that were published on the Internet.

Another law signed by Putin on July 22 increased the punishments for people who violate the rules for organizing and holding street protests.

The Kremlin's website says the minimum punishment for violating the laws on demonstrations more than twice during a six-month period will be a fine of between 600,000 rubles and 1 million rubles ($17,000 and $28,400).

It said the harshest penalty for the felony will be imprisonment of up to five years.

The law also allows police cordons to be set up during street rallies in order to "prevent and stop mass disturbances" caused by such rallies.

Additionally, the law makes it illegal to hold gatherings near territories and objects that require special safety and security control, including railways, energy lines, state borders, and areas close to presidential residences.

One more law signed by Putin on July 22 makes it mandatory to store data of Russian citizens inside the country only.

Under the law, from 2016 all Internet companies will have to move Russian data onto servers based in Russia.

The Kremlin said earlier the law is aimed at protecting data.

Critics said it is an attack on social networks, namely Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all U.S.-based companies.

Based on reporting by and Interfax
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