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Statement by GCTU

The General Confederation of Trade Unions is deeply concerned over the reported elaboration by the State Duma of the Federal Law "On assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and picketing".

The draft law, as approved at the first reading, encroaches on citizens' constitutional rights, primarily on the right of free and public expression of opinions.

The world trade union movement has for decades resorted to the practice of organising different kinds of mass events, such as marches, rallies and picket lines, to make the authorities aware of the unions' views on economic development problems. In so doing, the unions strictly observe their countries' laws and legal regulations, and often cooperate with the law enforcement authorities to ensure the personal safety of participants in such events.

The bill under review, if adopted, will only raise additional bureaucratic barriers preventing working people from expressing freely their will, make them actually evade the law, and create unjustified tensions in society. This will result in violating the universally accepted human rights and freedoms of trade unions and other public organisations.

The emergence of such a law in Russia will set an undesirable precedent in the Commonwealth of Independent States, offer a negative orientation for the ongoing process of harmonising the legislation systems of CIS states, and hinder our countries' advance towards further development of democracy, integration and a constructive social dialogue.

Speaking for trade unions in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the GCTU calls on the State Duma to manifest political realism and adopt a law that would be worthy of the new democratic Russia.

Mikhail Shmakov
GCTU President

14 April 2004