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Basic provisions of controversial anti-terror package come into force in Russia

July 20, 2016, 15:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The new anti-terror provisions have caused great controversy in society

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Russia's lower house deputy and member of the ruling United Russia party Irina Yarovaya

Russia's lower house deputy and member of the ruling United Russia party Irina Yarovaya

© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, July 20. /TASS/. The basic provisions of the controversial anti-terror package of laws are coming into force in Russia on Wednesday.

The media dubbed the new legislation as the Yarovaya anti-terror package as it was developed by lower house deputy and member of the ruling United Russia party Irina Yarovaya jointly with Senator Viktor Ozerov.

The new anti-terror provisions caused great controversy in society, primarily, due to the fears of Russian communications operators that their financial burden might increase over the need to comply with the new requirements.

Criticism was voiced not only by deputies from the opposition factions in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, but also by the non-parliamentary opposition, business ombudsman Boris Titov and the presidential Council for Human Rights.

In the wake of this criticism, President Vladimir Putin who signed the anti-terror package also gave instructions to the government to watch closely the implementation of the new legislation to minimize possible risks related to the communications operators’ expenditures and the use of domestic equipment for data storage. If necessary, the government should come up with the relevant initiatives.

Life sentence for international terrorism

The document expands the Criminal Code’s list of crimes against peace and security of mankind to incorporate "international terrorism," which is defined as "an explosion, arson or other acts committed outside Russia and endangering the life, health, freedom or inviolability of Russian citizens for the purpose of disrupting the peaceful co-existence of states and peoples or aimed against Russia’s interests, and also a threat of committing these acts."

These crimes will entail prison terms from 10 to 20 years or life imprisonment. A judge will also be able to pass a life sentence (or a prison term of 15 to 20 years) for international terrorism financing, if people die as a result of these crimes.

The lower limit of punishment under the article "terrorist act" is raised from 8 to 10 years and from 10 to 12 years, if a crime is committed by a group of persons or if it entails a person’s death.

The new anti-terror package gives a new and fully explicit definition of terrorism financing, which is understood to mean "the provision or the collection of funds or the rendering of financial services with the awareness that they are intended to finance the efforts to organize, prepare or commit" terrorist crimes.

Public calls for terrorism or its public justification in the Internet will entail a penalty of up to 1 million rubles ($15,600) or liberty deprivation for a term of 5-7 years.

Public justification implies "a public statement on recognizing the ideology and the practice of terrorism as right and in need of support and emulation." The new anti-terror legislation will punish participation in a terror organization with a prison term of 10 to 20 years compared with the current 5 to 10 years.

The anti-terror package introduces a new article in the Criminal Code, which prescribes sanctions for failure to report the preparation or the committal of terrorist crimes.

Such failure will entail a penalty of up to 100,000 rubles ($1,560) or compulsory labor for a term of up to 1 year or imprisonment for the same term. A citizen won’t be liable for failing to report the preparation or the committal of a terrorist crime by the citizen’s spouse or close relative.

Underage terrorists and new lower limits of punishment

The anti-terror package also tightens punishment for organizing an illegal armed formation or participating in it, including abroad: the upper limit of punishment under this article is raised by 5 years. Russia’s Criminal Code is supplemented with a new article imposing punishment for inducing or recruiting for committing mass disorders.

Such acts will be punished with a penalty of 300,000 rubles ($4,680) to 700,000 rubles ($10,930) or liberty deprivation for a term of 5 to 10 years.

Lower limits are introduced for punishment under article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Incitement of Hatred or Enmity or Humiliation of Human Dignity). In particular, the minimum imprisonment term will equal three years and the maximum term will stand at six years.

Likewise, punishment will be tightened for organizing the activity of an extremist group, an extremist community and financing extremist activities.

The age threshold for intentional terrorism is lowered to 14 years. Crimes committed in the conditions of an armed conflict or military actions are proposed to be referred to the circumstances aggravating criminal penalty.

Ban on religious sects

A separate section of amendments in the anti-terror package defines "missionary activity" and prohibits its conduct on behalf of religious associations whose goals run counter to law. The new anti-terror legislation also bans missionary activity that violates public security and order, extremist actions, coercion into ruining families, and encroachments on the freedom of the person and the rights and freedoms of citizens.

A ban is imposed on missionary activities aimed at inducing suicide, at creating obstructions to getting compulsory education and at persuasion of individuals to refuse to perform their legally binding civic duties.

Missionary or preacher activity in violation of the requirements of the legislation on the freedom of conscience, the freedom of faith and on religious associations will entail a penalty of 5,000 rubles ($78) to 50,000 rubles ($780) for individuals and from 100,000 rubles ($1,560) to 1 million rubles ($15,600) for legal entities.

A foreign citizen will face extradition from Russia for such activities. Under the new provisions, literature, printed, audio and video materials should be labelled and should have official full names.

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