Government commission backs harsher punishments for extremism
- Putin calls on police to prevent extremism
- Scholars to set up independent expert commission on extremism
- Russia to compile list of extremist symbols forbidden to use
- Bill banning registration of extremist religious organizations sent to Duma
- Putin urges prosecutors to respond to growing threat of extremism
MOSCOW, May 28 (RAPSI) - A government commission has approved a Justice Ministry sponsored bill increasing punishment for extremist activity and religious organizations, reads a statement on the Governments website.
The Justice Ministry has proposed to extend prison terms and forced labor for individuals who promote extremist activities and incite hatred publicly with the use of the media, or make offensive statements on gender, race, ethnicity, language, religion or social background.
Tougher punishment will also face those who organize or join extremist groups or public and religious organizations banned by the courts. The bill is aimed at neutralizing national security threats which stem from the destructive activity of certain religious groups in Russia.
The current maximum punishments listed in the Criminal Code for the offences mentioned range from up to three to up to 10 years in prison as well as fines of up to 300,000 ($9,500) and 500,000 rubles ($16,000), depending on the nature of the crime. The statement did not specify the new punishments proposed.
Previously introduced "anti-extremism legislation" in Russia has been criticized by human rights advocates, who claim it has often been used to clamp down on dissent rather than real threats to public order, and say the definition of extremist is subject to the interpretation of prosecutors and investigators.
Religious minority groups have also faced prosecution in Russia for activities considered "extremist," or for publishing "extremist publications."
In 2011, prosecutors in the city of Tomsk tried to impose a ban on the Russian translation of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is,” written by the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, claiming that the scripture promoted extremism. A court later ruled against the prosecutor's case.