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Russian Activists Denied Permission For Protest Against Domestic Violence Bill

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin

Moscow authorities have denied activists permission to protest in a central square against legislation that would decriminalize some forms of domestic violence in Russia.

Organizers wanted to hold a demonstration on Bolotnaya Square on January 28, with up to 1,000 people attending.

In rejecting the application, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin's office said that there is not enough room on the square -- the site of past protests attended by tens of thousands of people -- and that the gathering would disrupt traffic.

The bill would make "moderate" violence within families an administrative offense, rather than a criminal one, with those found guilty able to pay a fine instead of serving jail time.

It easily passed in the first of three votes in the lower house of parliament, and the second reading is scheduled for January 25.

Amnesty International on January 19 urged Russia not to adopt the legislation, calling it a "sickening attempt to trivialize domestic violence" that would undermine already weak protections against abuse.

The bill "is not going to improve the situation, to say the least," Irina Matviyenko, who runs a domestic violence hot line, told the Associated Press.

Based on reporting by Meduza, AP, and The Guardian

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