The second March of Millions held by opposition activists in Moscow on Tuesday remains one of the most widely discussed topics in Russia. The march and the rally were peaceful, although many had expected new clashes and violations to take place. Not a single police officer was attacked, and not one activist was detained. Perhaps, this was the result of the new law on rallies imposing high fines for violations. The issue was discussed by the leading Russian political analysts during a special meeting in Moscow.
That was almost an ideal rally from the point of view of public order with all participants behaving in a proper way, the director of the Democratic Research Foundation, Maxim Grigoryev, said, adding that he was a public observer during the campaign and had positive impressions of what he saw there:
"We saw how the people marched and how the police were watching the event. I was there myself. Some protesters came up to police officers to ask them what would be the best way to organize the march and at the same time create no obstacles to anybody. It means that there is already a culture of protesting. I liked very much the way the police worked. They treated all protesters with respect. It is worth mentioning that the march and the rally attracted people with very different political views. I think that amendments to the law on rallies have had a positive effect on society, forcing the most aggressive protesters to change their minds."
The new law on rallies came into force on June 9 and caused harsh debates among the people, with many fearing that higher fines would just provoke more violence. The fears were in vain. Opposition activists have probably understood that behaving properly won`t cost them anything, said Irina Yarovaya, the chairwoman of the State Duma security and anti-corruption committee. She described the new law as an ‘air cushion’ for the society:
"Actually, the amendments to the law on rallies were caused by the opposition itself after its activists had incited aggression during the previous rallies. Then the provocations were suppressed by the police. After that the parliament analyzed the European legislation on rallies and approved adequate measures to be taken in Russia to ensure more security during upcoming rallies. I want to believe that those who organize the rallies have understood the level of their responsibility."
Most analysts agree that the new law meets the European norms: it does not deprive the people of their right to protest, while the fines are quite comparable to those used in the majority of the developed countries.
Latest opinion polls show most Russians approve the new law on rallies. In a survey conducted by the Public Opinion foundation in 43 regions of Russia, 50% of the respondents welcomed higher fines for violations during rallies. 38% of the respondents think that higher fines will result in fewer violations during protest campaigns. More than 50% of Russians approve of the ban to wear masks during rallies: if people want to express their views they should do this openly.