Russian lawmakers propose rescinding law used against Jehovah's Witnesses


Rosbalt, 15 June 2016


A draft law was introduced into the State Duma for abolishing one of the antiextremist rules of Russian legislation, article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian federation, a Rosbalt correspondent reports.


This article establishes the substance of a crime, providing punishment for actions intended to incite hatred or enmity, as well as to demean the dignity of a person or group of persons on the basis of sex, race, nationality, language, or heritage identity, or attitude toward religion, as well as membership in any social group, committed publicly or by means of mass media or information and telecommunication networks, including the Internet.


The punishment provides for a fine of up to 300 thousand rubles or up to two years salary, or elimination of the right to occupy certain offices or to engage in certain activity for up to three years, or community service up to four years, or incarceration for up to four years. Committing the crime with aggravating circumstances, that is, with the use of force or threats, use of official position, or an organized group entails a more severe penalty.


The initiators of the repeal of this article of the CC was a group of deputies from the LDPR [Liberal Democratic Party of Russia]. In their opinion, "the objective aspect of the crime under article 282, identifying a course of activities and not their actual description, is characterized by vagueness whose meaning can lead to absurdity and complete abuse."


"The imprecise substance of a crime under article 282 to a great extent defines the possibility of law enforcement practice: "incite hatred or enmity" can quite easily include statements or activity of any citizen due to his own personal ideological interests. In addition, the vague and broad wording is being used against a citizen for political purposes. To some extent article 282 is a potential instrument for struggle with persons who disagree with an existing political course and thus it legalizes political censorship," the LDPR noted.


"The definition of crimes under article 282 of the CC of RF in some sense is 'universal,' since it allows criminal prosecution even for statements expressed in the form of a reposting on a social network without commentary by the defendant, or statements disseminated without explicit intent, that is, emotionally manifested discontent, regardless of the intentions of a person who is posting the information," the deputies added.


According to public statistics of the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian federation, the number of persons convicted under article 282 of CC has been growing from year to year. Thus, in 2009, the number of persons convicted was 44, but in 2015 it was up to 369. The number of persons convicted has increased annually by approximately 50 percent. More than half of convictions were youth under the age of 30 years. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 June 2016)




The head of the State Duma Committee on Civil, Criminal, Arbitration, and Process Legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov (United Russia), refused to support repeal of article 282 (inciting hatred and enmity) of the Criminal Code. The lawmaker told RIA Novosti about this on Wednesday, 15 June.


Earlier deputies from the LDPR fraction introduced a draft law for rescinding article 282 of the CC because of vagueness in its wording, which is being used "against a citizen for political purposes."


In Krasheninnikov's opinion, this is a matter of implementation and the prohibition of inciting strife itself is enshrined in the constitution.


"This is generally a strengthening of the constitutional ban by the Criminal Code," the deputy explained. He added that cancelling article 282 could lead to the most adverse effects, including bloodshed.


"It is no secret that the highest degree of extremism, the highest point of extremism is terrorism," the member of the lower house concluded.


In late May a Taganrog court sentenced a local resident, Elizaveta Tsverkova, to a year of corrective labor for distributing a leaflet about the police printed from VKontakte, on the basis of article 282 of the CC. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 June 2016)

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