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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Election Rallies Ban Removed From Bill

The authors of controversial legislation that would place new restrictions on public gatherings have removed a clause that bans rallies and marches two weeks before and after elections.

"We have submitted a revised bill and the two-week provision is gone," State Duma Deputy Vladimir Voronin said Tuesday. Voronin was among the group of deputies who drew up the legislaton, RIA-Novosti reported.

Apart from removing the two-week ban, however, the bill is the same as the original version submitted to the Duma last week. As before, it states that anyone convicted of extremism, or who receives an official warning regarding extremist activity, will be barred from holding public gatherings, Voronin said.

The bill would also prohibit anyone who had been fined for displaying Nazi regalia from organizing public events.

Voronin, of the United Russia faction, was joined in sponsoring the bill by three other members of his faction, one deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party and one independent.

The bill would also give authorities the right to seek a court order banning a public gathering if they received sufficient information that illegal activities were going to occur.

The proposed ban on public gatherings before and after elections was met with a storm of protest. Public Chamber members sharply criticized the provision last Friday, and President Vladimir Putin's deputy chief of staff, Vyacheslav Surkov, said the bill would be softened before coming up for a vote in the Duma.

Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, head of the United Russia party, told Interfax on Tuesday that he "would not support" the bill in its original form. Gryzlov also indicated that his faction, which controls two-thirds of the seats in the lower house, would also have voted against the original bill.