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Russia’s State Duma may make terrorists’ relatives pay for damage done

October 23, 2013, 15:42 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, October 23 (Itar-Tass) - Russia’s State Duma by the end of this week will pass a law that will make the families of terrorists answerable for the damage caused by the committed attacks. One of the proposed measures is to force terrorists’ relatives pay compensations.

The idea behind the bill is the group of persons to be held responsible for a terrorist attack should include not just the attacker or attackers (in case they survive), but also the relatives, next of kin and also people whose life, health and well-being are dear to the terrorist “by virtue of the existing personal relationships.” For instance, school friends or neighbors. However, this rule will work only on the condition if there is sufficient evidence the money, valuables and other properties that may be confiscated as compensation had been obtained as a result of terrorist activities after the terrorist attack. The proposed amendments to the federal law on detective work stipulate that the people constituting the terrorist’s “inner circle” will be obliged to prove the legality of their valuable possessions, properties and incomes from them.

State Duma member Pavel Krasheninnikov, speaking on behalf of the committee for legislation he leads is going to complement the bill with his own amendments to ensure the material responsibility established for the terrorist’s relatives should not run counter to the existing articles of the Civil Code. Krasheninnikov acknowledges that such contradictions do exist.

The problem of forcing relatives to pay for the damage from actions by terrorists may prove very sensitive for the population of Russia’s North Caucasus.

The State Duma is discussing the controversial bill in the wake of last Monday’s explosion on a city bus in Volgograd, southern Russia, committed by a suicide woman bomber. The blast killed six and seriously injured tens of others. At the same time it is unclear in what way the investigators will be able to prove that the 30-year-old woman terrorist’s mother, a postal worker, can compensate for what her daughter has done.

Russia’s Muslim republics of the North Caucasus are distinguished by their old-fashioned lifestyles. In contrast to the other parts of Russia, where intra-family relations are often devaluated, the Caucasus peoples appreciate bonds of kinship.

Alvi Karimov, the press-secretary of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, when asked by ITAR-TASS about the bill under consideration, offered this reply “What sort of responsibility can a terrorist’s relatives bear at a time when they have not a dime to spare?”

In his opinion “terrorists are usually people who do not bother about earning their daily bread, because quite often they are descendants from very poor or single-parent families.”

Karimov says he can recall dozens of instances in which recruiters hired potential terrorists for 50-100 dollars.

In his opinion Russian legislators possibly have very poor knowledge of the Caucasus peoples, which follow the unwritten rule the family’s moral responsibility for crimes committed by relatives is far higher than material responsibility.

“Under the law of the mountains, which is still effective in the Caucasus, a terrorist’s relatives become outcasts in their own community. They have to resettle to other regions or to pay with their lives for the crimes committed by their sons, husbands or brothers. They would be prepared to give away all of their properties a thousand times just for the sake of evading a harsher punishment,” Karimov said.

A leading Russian specialist on inter-ethnic relations, Higher School of Economics lecturer Emil Pain has told ITAR-TASS, “The responsibility of relatives for attacks by terrorists looks like a tribal custom, and not a law in use in a civilized society. On the other hand, it is the tribal customs and traditions that the terrorists follow in their actions. By exploding a bus in Volgograd the Dagestan-born woman killed and injured innocent young people out of vengeance for somebody else’s sins. But if in its struggle with terrorism the government starts following the tit-for-tat principle, it will trigger a chain reaction. It’s like trying to extinguish a fire by pouring oil on it.”

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s former adviser, doctor of law Mikhail Krasnov, has told ITAR-TASS in an interview the proposed bill for establishing the responsibility of terrorists’ relatives is “a violation of legal principles and a return to the principles of collective responsibility and a return of old-time community-based concepts.” The expert believes that the rule of law, and Russia is certainly such a state ruled by law, leaves no room for any person’s responsibility for a non-committed crime.”

Krasnov said “from the emotional point of view the legislators’ pathetic reaction is easy to understand, because terrorism is a terrible phenomenon, but anyway this is not a reason for undermining the legal basis of the Russian state, because it can backfire in the future.”

It is noteworthy that back three years ago the extravagant leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, came out with such an idea. He then suggested exiling the relatives of terrorists to Siberia.