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    RUSSIA'S SENATE OBJECTS AS BILL BANS PUBLIC RALLIES NEAR GOVERNMENT OFFICES

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    MOSCOW, APRIL 1, RIA NOVOSTI - The Federation Council, parliament's upper house, has come out against a bill outlawing public rallies and demonstrations in the vicinity of government office premises, embassies and other diplomatic legations. The State Duma, lower house, approved it in an initial reading yesterday.

    "I don't think the Duma was logical in its approval. The bill makes me apprehensive," says Alexander Torshin, Federation Council Vice-Speaker. The ban will merely provoke opposition to rally in taboo places, he warns. "If the bill gets through, it will be a godsend to extremists." "If anyone thinks this is the way to wall himself off from public discontent, he will merely make himself ever more enemies," said the Vice-Speaker.

    "We ought not to rob the nation in peacetime of its constitutional rights, freedom of speech among them," Victor Ozerov, defence and security committee head, said to Novosti.

    Rallies and demonstrations mean to make the public opinion reach rulers' ear-not to please ralliers themselves. "Are we to authorise rallies and demonstrations in the North Pole alone? In that case, the regime will certainly be deaf to anything," says Yuri Sharandin, in charge of the constitutional committee.

    He called, however, to reckon with safety rules and introduce reasonable limits for demonstrators.

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