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MOSCOW, February 1. /TASS/. The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, approved a law on Wednesday making domestic violence an administrative rather than criminal offence, only if it’s a first-time transgression.
One of its authors and the deputy chairperson of the Federation Council’s Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State-Building, Lyudmila Bokova, said the law amends Article 116 of the Russian Criminal Code. It excludes physical assaults on relatives from criminal offences while a person who commits the repeated assaults will be prosecuted according to criminal law.
The legislation, dubbed by some Russian media outlets a "slapping law," concerns both parents who beat their children and husbands who assault their wives.
This concerns beatings that inflict physical pain but do not cause serious bodily injury. If there is any threat to the person’s health, the attacker will face criminal charges.
In cases of repeated assaults, a defendant will face a fine of up to 40,000 rubles ($676), compulsory community service for up to six months or an arrest for up to three months. The administrative offence for first-time physical assaults envisages a fine of up to 30,000 rubles ($507), an arrest up to 15 days or compulsory community service up to 120 hours.
The measure was proposed by a group of MPs and members of the Federation Council after assaulting strangers had been decriminalized this past summer. Under the law, similar assaults against relatives remained a criminal offence. This led to disputes in the society on why assaulting strangers should be viewed as administrative offence, while violence against family members should be regarded as criminal offence.
In late 2016, activists from the All-Russia Parents Resistance (RVS), a public organization, collected more than 213,000 signatures and later submitted them to the presidential administration protesting "anti-family provisions" of the law passed this summer. The Russian president backed the group’s appeal during his annual news conference in December.
The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, passed the legislation in the third and final reading last week.