Gryzlov promises to amend demonstration law

President Vladimir Putin said, again, that the draft law on rallies and demonstrations should not restrict citizens' freedoms.

"It is obvious, and I hope that the deputies will proceed precisely from it," the president said at a meeting with State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov.

Mr. Gryzlov assured the president that the deputies would make amendments to the draft law, which the State Duma adopted in its first reading on March 31 and which has been heavily criticized.

"The thesis that rallies should not be held near administrative and bodies of authorities' buildings is wrong," Mr. Gryzlov said. "Where else should they be held to show the existence of different opinions to the authorities?"

"This draft law was submitted last year by the previous Government, its text was prepared in April last year," the speaker said. He explained that the draft law was submitted to the State Duma for consideration so that the text could be worked on. He said that it was assumed from the very beginning that there would be many amendments to the law.

"From the first days of the discussion, deputies began proposing amendments. I submitted three amendments and they were adopted for consideration," Mr. Gryzlov said.

He also pointed out that the constitution ensures the right of citizens to hold meetings and demonstrations but there is no corresponding federal law. In addition, each constituent member of the Russian Federation has its own laws on holding meetings and demonstrations. He said that it was necessary to make the laws uniform for every region.

"The main thesis of the draft law is to switch from an authorizing system to a notification one," Mr. Gryzlov stressed.

"The draft law will be amended by the second reading. It now contains the term 'adoption of notification' that is it may be adopted or not. We will change it to 'receiving notification,'" the speaker said.

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