Russian parliament to consider amendments to Criminal Code: up to 15 years behind bars for ‘discrediting’ military volunteers and organisations helping Russia in Ukraine

Amendments to Russia’s Criminal Code and Code on Administrative Offences were introduced to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. The amendments include liability for “discrediting” participants of the war in Ukraine, including volunteer units, organisations, and individuals assisting in carrying out tasks assigned to the Russian army, Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin says in a post on Telegram.

“The punishment for offenders will be severe: fines up to five million rubles (€65,000) or in the amount of a convict’s wages or other income for the period of up to five years, or correctional or forced labour for up to five years, or imprisonment for up to fifteen years,” he writes.

The second reading will take place on 2 March, the final reading on 14 March, he adds.

As of now, citizens can be punished for “discrediting the use of the Armed Forces”. The law does not include any mentions of volunteer units. The maximum punishment according to the current version of the law is five years in a penal colony.

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The bill on liability for “discrediting” military volunteers taking part in war was developed by the State Duma Security and Anti-Corruption Committee by 8 February on request from founder of PMC Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin. He proposed to add an article “On discrediting participants of warfare, military volunteers, including ex-convicts”. At the time, Volodin ordered an examination of the issue.

On 4 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law equating military volunteer status to contract serviceman one.

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