Russian PEN: Protesting Anti-Protest Legislation
We, the members of the Russian PEN Center, an international human rights writers’ organization, are protesting against the so-called “Laws Regarding Congregation”—passed in the darkness of night by the State Duma and speedily approved the following day by the Federation Council of Russia—which increased fines a hundred-fold for causing a disturbance at a street rally. This rushed, poorly-thought-out document—passed through the efforts of representatives from “United Russia,” the only party managing to establish a parliamentary majority last December—will only create further division in our society and bring it to the brink of civil war. By limiting freedom of speech and contradicting many other rational Russian laws, this “law” also infringes on the Russian Constitution, of which you yourself are the guarantor. It gives free reign to lawlessness, and to what is referred to in contemporary language as an “outrage” that has a multitude of other negative consequences. That is why we call upon you, as the president of the Russian Federation, to veto this “law,” which benefits only those who are determined to turn our great country into a police state at war with its own people. – The Executive Committee of the Russian PEN Center
This letter, and similar appeals from inside and outside Russia, fell on deaf ears, and last Friday Putin signed the bill into law. Stay tuned for more from Russia and Russian PEN. Meanwhile, check out this great piece by Masha Gessen, author of the Putin biography The Man Without a Face, on the latest developments.