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St. Petersburg Tightly Restricts Public Gatherings

Protests will need official approval.
The local assembly of Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, has banned public gatherings in the city's central squares and avenues.

The law adopted in the third reading on February 20 only allows gatherings that have official permission and are 50 meters from government buildings, schools, hospitals, or police stations.

Public gatherings can be held without advance permission by a maximum of 200 people in specially designated areas.

The new law does not apply to the meetings of lawmakers with voters, religious ceremonies, sports competitions, and cultural events devoted to the celebration of holidays and historic dates.

Lawmakers from the parliament's opposition parties voted against the law.

The leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky, called the law unconstitutional, adding that his party will fight to repeal it.

Based on reporting by and Interfax