Putin signs tougher extremism liability law
MOSCOW, February 4 (RAPSI) - President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed the bill stipulating harder liability for extremist activity. The bill was drafted in accordance with presidential and governmental instructions and in view of the destructive activity of certain religious organizations in Russia.
Its text stipulates tougher criminal punishment for public incitement of extremism (Article 280 of the Criminal Code), with fines reaching 300,000 rubles (approximately $9,000), and increased prison sentences – from three to four years.
It also proposes that the length of compulsory labor for inciting hatred or enmity or for abasing human dignity (Article 282) should be increased from two to four years, with a maximum fine of 500,000 rubles ($15,272).
Tougher consequences are also stipulated for organizing extremist groups and for being a part of secular or religious organizations banned for extremism.
The Prosecutor General's Office reported in July 2013 that extremism cases were on the rise. First Deputy Aleksandr Buksman of the Prosecutor General's Office said that the number of registered crimes connected with extremism increased by 11% in 2012, and by 20% in the first six months of 2013.
The law on combating extremism, which was adopted in July 2002, has been criticized by human rights advocates, who claim that it has often been used to clamp down on dissent rather than to fight real threats to public order. They also say that the definition of extremism is subject to the interpretation of prosecutors and investigators.