Russian President Vladimir Putin [BBC profile] signed new legislation [Kremlin press release, in Russian] on Monday establishing education standards and setting new guidelines for educators' salaries and school fees. The legislation has been previously approved by both the State Duma [official website, in Russian] and the Federation Council [official website]. The newly enacted legislation requires a mandatory course to teach the fundamentals of religion. The cost of kindergarten programs are to be assessed by each municipality independently, allowing each institution to determine whether to reduce the cost of care for certain families. The legislation also mandates that the minimum salary for teachers will be proportionate to the average salary of the economical region of their employment. Additionally, educators who live in rural communities are to be compensated for their utility expenses. Many educators protested the legislation, claiming the law would decrease the number of small rural schools and induce new fees for education. The law is effective on September 1, 2013.
Other recently passed laws in Russia have raised controversy in recent months. In July, Putin signed into law [JURIST report] a bill that labels all non-governmental organizations that engage in political activity as "foreign agents" and requires them to register with the Justice Ministry before receiving any foreign funding. Also in July, Russian politicians asked [JURIST report] the country's constitutional court to review a recently passed law that increases penalties against protesters who violate regulations. Earlier in July, the Duma approved [JURIST report] the third reading of a controversial Internet regulation bill. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia had shut down its site [JURIST report] in a one-day protest of the legislation, which it said in an article "may become the basis for real censorship on the internet." In May prominent Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekeyev became the first to be convicted [JURIST report] under a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. People who oppose the new law, which was introduced in November and signed into law [JURIST reports] in April, claim it will prevent gay rights groups from being able to assemble in public.