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Police take on an unsanctioned LGBT protest last May
Police take on an unsanctioned LGBT protest last May
Irina Nagornix, Sergei Titov, Aleksei Kotlyar, Igor Lavrenkov, Anna Perova and Yuri Belov

MOSCOW - Russia's federal government, which has instituted its own new public order decrees, is starting to be concerned that the outer regions of the country are cracking down on civil society protests a little too enthusiastically.

Regional leaders took part in a meeting last month of vice-governors with the presidential administration to discuss laws regarding mass protests. And indeed, several of the regional laws, which were enacted after the federal government adopted strict laws about protest and other ‘mass’ events, were described as too severe.

Vladimir Putin’s administration has suggested that the regional governments should consider a more liberal approach that puts more emphasis on prevention and the resolution of conflicts before they developed into mass discontent.

The regions had to enact new laws regarding mass protests in order to come into compliance with the changes made by the Duma this spring, which among other things increased the punishment for unauthorized events. The process of compliance is a slow one for the regional authorities, but in those places where new rules have been adopted, they have generally chosen the harshest version possible among the options outlined in the federal law.

For example, in the Kemerovsky region, between Novosibirsk and Kasnoyarsk, a new law was adopted in July with minimal discussion. The law allows individuals to picket, only if there is at least a 50-meter distance between each person picketing. All mass actions are forbidden where they would interfere with residents' access to transport, social infrastructure, everyday goods, pedestrian or motor traffic.

"Principles of democracy..."

Moreover, the list of specific places where mass action is forbidden is so exhaustive that it is hard to imagine an area that such a rally could occur. Any action with more than 100 participants has to be authorized, and is not allowed to have more than one person per every two square meters. The law says that any protest planned to take place near a government building would have to abide by separate rules, but it has yet to specify what those rules might be.

There is a similar situation in the Ivanovo region, located about 400 kilometers east of Moscow, where the number of places excluded from protests is so extensive that there is only one place in the urban center that could possibly be used for protests. In fact, that is exactly what the regional government wanted.

“The freedom for some people to have an active political life should not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of others in the city. That is one of the principles of democracy," the region’s governor said. "One place for protests is enough for a small regional capital.”

Now the regions are thinking about the hints coming from Moscow. The governor of the Ivanovo region says that the laws there might be liberalized. Other governors are saying that they will throw all their resources into prevention. “Not big protests, but round tables and coordination councils with members of the government. I am going to insist on that kind of work,” said one of the regional government members in the Novosibirskovo region.

Whether or not the government is showing some inventiveness in its fight against protests, or whether it is actually just going to continue as before with iron-fisted crackdowns, will become clear soon enough. The opposition is planning several Russia-wide protests in the fall, including a “March of the Millions.”

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Society

Papá, Papá, On Repeat: Are We Men Ready For Fatherhood To Change Our Lives?

There is a moment on Saturday or Sunday, after having spent ten hours with my kids, that I get a little exasperated, I lose my patience. I find it hard to identify the emotion, I definitely feel some guilt too. I know that time alone with them improves our relationship... but I get bored! Yes, I feel bored. I want some time in the car for them to talk to each other while I can talk about the stupid things we adults talk about.

A baby builds stack of blocks

Ignacio Pereyra*

This is what a friend tells me. He tends to spend several weekends alone with his two children and prefers to make plans with other people instead of being alone with them. As I listened to him, I immediately remembered my long days with Lorenzo, my son, now three-and-a-half years old. I thought especially of the first two-and-a-half years of his life, when he hardly went to daycare (thanks, COVID!) and we’d spend the whole day together.

It also reminded me of a question I often ask myself in moments of boredom — which I had virtually ignored in my life before becoming a father: how willing are we men to let fatherhood change our lives?

It is clear that the routines and habits of a couple change completely when they have children, although we also know that this rarely happens equally.

With the arrival of a child, men continue to work as much or more than before, while women face a different reality: either they double their working day — maintaining a paid job but adding household and care tasks — or they are forced to abandon all or part of their paid work to devote themselves to caregiving.

In other words, "the arrival of a child tends to strengthen the role of economic provider in men (...), while women reinforce their role as caregivers," says an extensive Equimundo report on Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting a trend that repeats itself in most Western countries.

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