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Putin Supports Controversial Antiprotest Bill

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he supports a controversial bill that would introduce a 200-fold increase in fines for those taking part in unsanctioned protests.

The bill received a preliminary approval by the Kremlin-controlled State Duma on May 22.

Putin said in remarks broadcast on May 23 during a televised meeting with the head of the presidential human-rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, that the new bill would strengthen democracy in the country by protecting citizens and the government from what he described as "radical actions."

Putin stressed that decisions on amendments to the legislation should be "well balanced."

Fedotov later told Reuters he would urge Putin to veto the measure if it is passed in its current form.

The bill, proposed by the ruling United Russia party, stipulates fines of up to 1.5 million rubles ($48,000) for violations of the law on public gatherings.

The initiative has been condemned by opposition supporters, who say it threatens the survival of the protest movement against Putin.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax

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