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Russian Lawmakers Fight To Approve First Reading Of Bill On COVID QR Codes

A bus conductor scans commuters' QR codes at a bus stop in Kazan, Russia.
A bus conductor scans commuters' QR codes at a bus stop in Kazan, Russia.

Russian lawmakers have approved the first reading of a bill on the introduction of QR codes for citizens to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, though not without a fight. Literally.

Communist deputies who openly opposed the ruling United Russia party-backed idea to introduce the QR-code system arrived at the parliamentary session on December 16 with a poster saying, "Against QR fascism."

Lawmakers representing United Russia tried to forcibly take the poster from the Communist deputies, who resisted, which led to a scuffle that ended shortly after State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called on the lawmakers to calm down.

No injuries were reported from the fight.

Volodin harshly criticized the Communists for coming to the session with the poster, saying that they could use such posters for their actions in the streets instead of "holding an event here while receiving a monthly salary of 500,000 rubles ($6,800)."

The bill was approved by 329 lawmakers, while 87 voted against it, and one abstained.

The bill, which still needs to be approved in two other readings before heading to parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council, would allow local authorities to introduce QR codes and so-called COVID passports to be presented in public places to prove vaccination status or having recovered from COVID-19.

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