Target: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Throw out new laws designed to limit public protests
Russia’s controversial anti-protest bills were recently signed into law by president Vladimir Putin. Now, in addition to previously mandated fines, protestors can face prison time or forced labor. Repeat demonstrators will face harsher penalties, with fines of up to one million rubles, and a maximum five year prison sentence. Furthermore, maximum sentences have been increased for those that encourage dissent online or through the media, while the fine for separatist speech has also been increased.
The legislation is only a part of many measures designed to limit public discourse and political demonstration. The same day, Russia increased its online surveillance powers with requirements that all internet service providers store all Russian personal user data on Russian servers. This will make it easier for Russian authorities to target and apprehend online activists.
These laws will not only severely stifle public political discussion, but could lead to the incarceration of thousands of otherwise innocent people. The legislation conflicts with several human rights agreements, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signed party.
For the past year, Russia has been imposing increasing limitations on the right to publicly protest or share information. It is imperative that action is taken to reverse this before it is too late. Your signature will demand that Russian president Vladimir Putin repeal recently enacted anti-protest laws, and make the political environment more open to public discussion.
Dear Mr. Putin,
Additional laws limiting Russian citizens’ ability to protest have recently been imposed, along with an increase in penalties for some already outlawed acts of political advocacy. Those involved in repeat protests could face a fine of up to one million rubles, or a fine equivalent to two years worth of pay. Additionally, repeat demonstrators could face sentences of up to five years forced labor or imprisonment.
These new laws place unfair limits on free speech, and are a breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Russia is a party. Furthermore, it will result in the false imprisonment of thousands of innocent civilians, as well as an environment hostile toward necessary public discussions about politics and current events.
In order to protect the free speech rights of Russian civilians, the government must reverse its anti-protest and anti-discourse legislation, including fines and prison sentences for public demonstrators, online activists, and members of the media. I demand that Russia immediately revise its laws, repealing any sections that limit Russians’ rights to voice their opinions.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Presidential Press and Information Office via WikiMedia Commons