Since 2012 the laws concerning public demonstrations have been actively changing in Russia. On the federal as well as regional level. Each constituency has a list of «protected places», where it is forbidden for a political meeting to take place. Last year there has been a new discussion about the necessity of a legal change due to a mass of government prohibitions in hundreds of Russian cities, thousands of detainees and the criminal charges that followed (for a political meeting to take place its organizers have to notify the authorities a few days in advance; and under certain conditions the authorities could in principle restrict or prohibit a demonstration). Having analyzed the federal and the regional law and having turned the existing prohibitions into a map, by example of 16 major cities we are showing here how the people’s right to «gather peacefully and without arms», guaranteed by the paragraph 31 of Russian Constitution, is being upheld in reality. «Forbidden territory» is a map of places where it is prohibited to have public meetings and demonstrations.
What makes this project innovative?
While those regulations are not applied in real life, it is hard to evaluate their real consequences. The scale of the new restrictions is completely unclear: is it just about some specific spaces, where a public demonstration could not take place; or does it lead to the whole city being unaccessible for a political meeting (and especially its central area, which is the most important spot for public demonstrations' organizers)? It is almost impossible to follow the new laws: the organizers and the participants could at every moment and very easily un-willfully break those laws. To make the problem clear, we transformed the new regulations into a map.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The project is an important indicator of human rights in modern Russian society. It shows the gap between the freedom of meetings which is fixed in Constitution and the real situation corrected by the local laws.
Source and methodology
The lists of «protected places», where it is prohibited to organize a public demonstration, are given in the Federal law about political meetings (page 8), as well as the regional laws (with the exception of Moscow, where there are no directly prohibited «protected places»). The lists of «Hyde-parks» — places where the order of organization of a demonstration is simplified — are found in the local government executive orders and in the executive orders of the local government of certain human settlements.Legislative and executive powers in the regions constantly change those documents. In particular, while we were working on the project, the amount of «Hyde-parks» in St. Petersburg and Ufa fell from 5 to 4, and in Omsk from 14(!) to 5. The data on the map is as of November 1, 2017.Before working on the data, we created a summary table for all types of objects (sites), where each object (site) is assigned one of the following values:Value 0: if it is a polygonal object, it is taken as a whole (e.g. the railway station plus the square in front of it), if it is a line-like or a dot-like object, it is taken with a buffer zone with 10 meter radius around it (e.g. in the case of railroads).Value N: if the object is taken with the buffer zone of the radius NValue iat (from «immediately adjacent territory»): if the object is taken with the overall maximal buffer zoneValue iatN: if the object is taken with the maximal buffer zone of the radius NBIf there is no value, this type of objects (sites) is not mentioned by the legal documents.The buffer zones were prescribed following the above logic. The resulting zones are integrated into the general «prohibited territories».Apart from the visualization, map contains statistical summary. For this within the borders of a city the following numbers are calculated:The area where public demonstrations are forbidden devised by the whole area of the city.The are where public demonstrations are allowed devised by the whole area of the city.For now the areas where public demonstrations could not physically be organized (e.g. water objects, buildings themselves) were not subtracted from «the whole area of the city».
The geographical data were collected from the open source database OpenStreetMap (henceforth OSM). OSM is an open source (licensed by ODbL) map of the world. Those data, created by volunteers, helped our project, but also put some additional restrictions on it, described below.From this OSM database we collected all the objects (places) included in the laws and pick for each of them the legally prescribed buffer zone (the minimal radius, within which it is forbidden to organize a public demonstration).Technological side of the project is better explained by our colleagues, who helped us to show data on map: http://nextgis.com/blog/tn/
Natalia SmirnovaMaxim DubininKonstantin PolivanovBoris Beilinson