Russian court supports right to organize protests

May 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM
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MOSCOW, May 18 (UPI) -- Russia's Constitutional Court, in a ruling that supports the right to free assembly, said organizers can't be punished for attracting large crowds.

Exceeding the authorized number of protesters at an event "is not a sufficient basis for placing responsibility with the organizers," the court ruling said. "That basis occurs only when the number present is a threat to public order,"

Organizers of public events, however, must offer a realistic estimate of the potential crowd size when seeking approval to hold an event, RIA Novosti reported.

"Otherwise the authorities cannot judge the suitability of the intended place for the meeting and also take the necessary measures to guarantee public safety," Judge Valery Zorkin said.

The government postponed debate Friday over an increase in the maximum fine for violations by organizers and protesters. Politicians called for higher fines after unsanctioned protests by opposition groups disrupted central Moscow over the past two weeks, RIA Novosti said.

Organizer Sergei Udaltsov, who was arrested last week for failing to obey police orders during an unsanctioned protest against President Vladimir Putin, is promoting a March of Millions protest near the Kremlin on June 12.

The route would go from Tverskaya Zastava to Borovitskaya Square, he said in a Twitter post.

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