Putin's rights advisers oppose anti-evangelism law



1 July 2016


Appeal from the Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights under the president of the Russian federation,

to V.V. Putin, president of the Russian federation


The Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (hereinafter, the Council) under the president of the Russian federation has discussed the laws adopted by the State Duma and approved by the Federation Council, which are known as the "anti-terrorism package of I. Yarovaya and V. Ozerov," and it urges you, esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich, to reject them in view of the unconstitutionality, contradictoriness, and legal imprecision of a number of the legal norms contained in them.


The Council notes with approval that many of the comments contained in its expert conclusion of 20 April 2016 were taken into account by lawmakers in the preparation of the "package" on second reading. However there remain a number of provisions that are unacceptable, in the opinion of the Council, and new, no less controversial, ones have been added to them.


First, the addition to the Criminal Code of the RF of article 205.6, "Failure to report a crime," is legally defective inasmuch as it provides for accountability for failure to fulfill a duty that is absent from our legislation. Moreover, this norm is in contradiction with provisions of the constitution of the RF and the Criminal Code of the RF that exempts representatives of a number of professions (clergy, lawyers, State Duma deputies, etc.) from giving testimony.


Second, it is impossible to predict the effect of reducing to age 14 the criminal liability for a number of crimes of a terrorist nature as well as increasing punishment for them. These innovations are not based on prevailing law enforcement practice and forensic investigations, but they rather represent an emotional instead of a rational response by the legislature to the atrocities of terrorists.


Third, the extension to three days of the period for reporting to the prosecutor the conduct of a warrantless search poses an obvious danger to human rights. This innovation will not aid in the struggle against terrorism, but it will facilitate the falsification of evidence and complicate the oversight for the legality of investigative actions.


Fourth, the requirements on telecommunications and internet providers regarding maintenance of data concerning interpersonal communications are unreasonable and dangerous for society and they will inevitably lead to colossal overhead costs and increases in prices as well as to the effective elimination of constitutional guarantees of the protection of personal data and the inviolability of private life.


Fifth, the measures proposed in the "antiterrorism package" for regulation of missionary activity will create unreasonable and excessive restrictions for the exercise of freedom of conscience by believers of all religions and they encroach on fundamental constitutional principles of the noninterference of the state in the internal activities of religious associations. This part of the "package" should, in the opinion of the Council, be removed from it and undergo a full-fledged process of discussion as a separate bill.


Sixth, the addition of an article in the Criminal Code of the RF about widespread disorders as a new part evokes puzzlement inasmuch as "recruitment" is a form of participation in a crime.


Seventh, the increase of criminal liability for organizing illegal migration, which is proposed without any basis, does not have the least to do with the goals of the "antiterrorism package" and it lacks any guarantees of the usefulness of such measures.


Eighth, the laws being analyzed violate the constitution of the RF with regard to the procedure of their adoption, inasmuch as they contain standards relating to the joint jurisdiction of the Russian federation and its constituent elements, but they did not go through the procedure provided for such cases.


The Council is sure that the work of combating terrorism requires seriously developed measures, which cannot be ascribed to the "antiterrorism package," despite all desires. Therefore the Council recommends that both laws be returned to the State Duma with instructions to carefully rework every rule contained in them, with the broad participation of experts and the public.  (tr. by PDS, posted 2 July 2016)

Russian original posted on website of Religiia i Pravo, 1 July 2016




The Kremlin has taken under advisement the position of the Council for Human Rights (CHR), which sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin a request to reject the "antiterrorism package." The president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, reported this to journalists, TASS reports.

"Indeed, we know about this appeal and we know the position of the CHR regarding this law. Certainly such positions are being taken into account."


On 30 June the CHR sent to Putin an appeal requesting that he reject the "antiterrorism package" of laws in view of the "unconstitutionality, contradictoriness, and legal imprecision of a number of legal norms contained in them."


In its appeal, the CHR recommended returning the laws to the State Duma "with instructions to carefully rework each norm contained in them, with broad participation of experts and the public."


The "antiterrorism package" toughens the punishment in most of the "extremism" articles, reduces the age of criminal liability for terrorism, and also introduces a number of new restrictions, for example, the prohibition of missionary activity in residential spaces. On 29 June it was approved by the Federation Council.


Earlier the law was criticized by the "big four" [telecommunications] operators. They declared that the requirements of the law are impractical both from a technical and from an economic point of view. They maintained that implementation of the new law will lead to an increase in prices of telecommunication by 2 to 3 times. (tr. by PDS, posted 2 July 2016)

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