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Duma finalises work on defamation, NGO bills

July 13, 2012, 0:49 UTC+3

Both initiatives are expected to be discussed and adopted in the second and third readings

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MOSCOW, July 12 (Itar-Tass) —— On Friday, the State Duma plans finalising its first session of the sixth convocation by adopting two bills – on introduction of criminal responsibility for defamation and on introduction of the term “foreign agents” in relation to non-profit organisations. Both initiatives are expected to be discussed and adopted in the second and third readings.

Initially, the bill on defamation suggested introducing imprisonment terms for up to one or two years. But following the objections from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the norm was taken from the future law and the legislators suggested raising fines to up to five million roubles.

As for the bill on the non-governmental organisations, the “foreign agents,” its provisions had been corrected following remarks from the Russian president, too. The bill will not affect regirstered religions organisations and the text for the second reading will offer more clear version of the notion of political activities, excluding “activities in sciences, culture, arts, healthcare, maternity, social protection, physical culture and sports, protection of animals and plants, charity activities, and support of charity and volunteer activities.” The text will not suggest administrative responsibility for ignoring the status of a “foreign agent,” and the legislators will include this norm in a separate bill.

Both bills have caused many comments and much criticism, and first of all from Russian human rights activists and experts. The State Duma urged not to dramatise the situation. While commenting on the statement that the deputies have been adopting in a hurry bills, which are often considered to be aimed at the opposition /those, relating to rallies, NGO and defamation/, Head of the State Duma’s Committee on security Irina Yarovaya said they had been designed “in the interests of the civil society.”

“They are not aimed against anybody,” she said. “They are for security of the civil society.”

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