Protesters at a picket in the Urals had to pretend that they were out for beauty treatment, not their rights, to dodge a new draconian law on unsanctioned rallies, local media reported on Tuesday.
Some three dozen tenants of a dorm in Chelyabinsk took to the streets to demand the right to privatize their housing, Ura.ru news Web site said.
Organizers applied for a rally permit in advance and assumed that one was granted, though they never received a reply from the city administration, the report said.
After the picket began, police informed the participants that the event was unsanctioned, which means the protesters could face fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,000) per person, according to the new law passed after the May riots at a Moscow rally, Ura.ru said.
However, protesters found a solution in folding their banners and lining up for a nearby beauty salon, pretending to be clients, the report said.
Police opted not to intervene after the format of the event changed, Ura.ru said. It remains unclear whether any protesters – many senior ladies among them, photos from the event show – got actual beauty treatment.
Most political pundits agree that the law making the rules for holding public rallies stricter was aimed at the political opposition, which has staged a string of mass protests in Moscow since December.
However, the legislation, passed in June, does not distinguish between various types of public gatherings, prompting activists nationwide to request permits for tongue-in-cheek “events,” like walking a dog or going shopping, in attempts to highlight the law’s shortcomings.