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Medvedev signs revised law on demonstrations

Dmitri Medvedev MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti)-People charged with minor administrative offences face being barred from organizing or attending rallies, after Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev signed off a revised law on Friday on protest meetings.

Medvedev blocked an earlier version of the law in November, saying it threatened the "free implementation of the citizens' constitutional rights."

Fresh amendments to the law, approved by both houses of parliament this fall, will prohibit activists facing administrative charges from organizing or attending unsanctioned protests.

DemonstrationThe law will also require requests to stage a rally be submitted no later than three working days before the proposed event.

Requests should specify whether vehicles will be involved. There has been rising public anger over disregard for traffic rules by VIP cars with flashing blue lights, known as migalki.
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Outrage spawned a grassroots protest movement this spring involving motorists attaching blue buckets to the roofs of their cars in imitation of the lights. A dozen protests by a group called the Blue Buckets have been held in Moscow since April.

Russia's powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered drivers of VIP vehicles to take a course in "professional ethics," The Guardian reported on Thursday.

The new law will also affect Russia's Strategy 31 protest movement. Opposition activists meet on Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square on the last day of every month with 31 days to defend Article 31 of Russia's Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

Unlike all previous attempts, the latest rally on October 31 was given the green light by the authorities - a move hailed by the opposition as a "small yet significant victory."

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