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Duma split over criminal liability for governors in case of ethnic conflicts

December 27, 2012, 5:39 UTC+3
In case a governor is found to be involved in instigating ethnic tensions, such governor might face a punishment of up to two years in custody
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MOSCOW, December 27 (Itar-Tass) —— Lawmakers of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house are split over an initiative to impose criminal liability on governors of Russian regions in case of ethnic conflicts in their regions.

Earlier, mass media cited chairman of the State Duma committee for nationality affairs, Gadzhimet Safaralieyv, as saying that a bill on sanctions against heads of regions where ethnic conflicts took place had been prepared. A fine might reach 500,000 roubles. In case a governor is found to be involved in instigating ethnic tensions, such governor might face a punishment of up to two years in custody.

According to chairman of the State Duma committee for public association and religious organizations, Yaroslav Nilov of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), this measure is unlikely to be efficient. “Let us imagine that the law is passed and tomorrow we can begin to arrest officials. Some 90 percent will be arrested. Who will work then?,” he asked. According to the lawmaker, the problem of interethnic relations is too complicated to be solved by criminal responsibility for governors. At the same time, he admitted, that a governor should face some sanctions in case he or she did nothing to ease tensions in case a conflict was ripe. “Negligence should carry a disciplinary punishment,” he said. “A governor or a head of municipality must do explanatory work, and relying on institutions of civil society, do his or her best to prevent such conflicts.”

Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the Duma committee on nationality affairs Valery Rashkin of the Communist Party does not share this opinion. “I think it is a wise law, bearing in mind the fact that interethnic relations in Russia are tense,” he told Itar-Tass. No concept on the nationality policy has been adopted so far, and laws in this area need to be adjusted, he noted. According to Pashkin, the mere fact that ethnic conflict and clashed do take place “proves that the authorities do not pay due attention to this problem.” “I would support this law, it is timely,” he said.

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