Russian law amendments punish ‘discrediting’ military, including voluntary formations


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Russian law amendments punish ‘discrediting’ military, including voluntary formations

RUSSIAN RESERVISTS. Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilization of troops get in the truck before their departure to the zone of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in the Rostov region, Russia October 31, 2022.

Sergey Pivovarov/REUTERS

'The punishment for violators will be severe,' says Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia's lower house of parliament

Note: This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

MOSCOW, Russia – Russia brought new law amendments to parliament on Wednesday, March 1, that further strengthen the country’s censorship laws, envisaging up to 15 years in jail for discrediting the armed forces and voluntary military organizations such as the Wagner Group.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group that is trying to storm Ukraine’s Bakhmut, complained in January that there are bloggers and social media channels that discredit his fighters who can’t be punished under existing laws.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said that “any public dissemination of knowingly false information about the forces” will be punishable, according to the amendments to the criminal code.

“As well as public actions aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, volunteer formations, organizations and persons who are facilitated in the implementation of tasks assigned to the…Armed Forces,” would be punishable, Volodin wrote on the Telegram messaging platform.

“This initiative will protect everyone who today is risking their lives to ensures the security of the country and our citizens…. The punishment for violators will be severe.”

The punishment envisages fines of up to five million roubles (about $66,580), correctional or forced labour up to five years, as well as imprisonment up to 15 years.

Shortly after sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, Russia’s parliament passed laws outlining hefty jail terms and fines for those who knowingly distribute “false information” or discredit its armed forces.

Russian prosecutors have opened more than 5,800 cases against people for discrediting the armed forces, the OVD-Info rights group says, while authorities have also used the laws against spreading false information to hand down lengthy jail sentences to long-time critics of the Kremlin. –

($1 = 75.1 roubles)

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