Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Russia's Duma Toughens Law on Extremism
In a third and final reading on Wednesday, Russia's State Duma adopted a bill aimed at toughening the consequences for the crimes of extremism and inciting hatred or enmity. The law stipulates tougher criminal punishment for public incitement of extremism (Article 280 of the Criminal Code), with fines reaching 300,000 rubles (approximately $9,000), and increased prison sentences – from three to four years. Tougher consequences are also stipulated for organizing extremist groups and for being a part of secular or religious organizations banned for extremism. The Prosecutor General's Office reported in July 2013 that extremism cases have increased by 20% in the first half of 2013. Human rights advocates have criticized the law on combating extremism, arguing that it has been used since its inception in 2002 to clamp down on dissent, and that the definition of extremism is subject to the interpretation of government prosecutors and investigators. Beginning on February 1st, at the request of the Prosecutor General or his deputies, communication watchdog Roskomnadzor will start blocking websites deemed to incite extremism.