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Putin supports controversial anti-protest bill

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May 23, 2012, 3:52 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Associated Press

An opposition protesters march in downtown Moscow during a rally, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 6, 2012
© AP

MOSCOW — Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he supports a controversial bill that would introduce a 200-fold increase in fines for those taking part in unsanctioned protests. The bill received a preliminary approval by the Kremlin-controlled lower house on Tuesday.

Putin said in remarks broadcast Wednesday that it would strengthen democracy in the country by protecting citizens from "radical actions."

Some have warned that the law may stop the middle class from protesting in Moscow but would fail to stem likely outbursts of anger against a series of planned reforms that would hike energy prices and cut social benefits.
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