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The State Duma voted for the first reading of the amendments in the articles of the Criminal Code over high treason and espionage. The crime will be the aid not only to foreign, but also international organizations, “consultative” assistance to foreign structures will be included in the criminal article for high treason along with the transfer of the state secrets.
The Russian Criminal Code is planned to include a new article, “The illegal acquisition of the information, which constitutes the state secret,” the Novye Izvestia daily reported. Under the amendments the acquisition of such information through stealing, fraud, bribery, blackmailing, coercion or a threat to use violence will be punished by a fine from 200,000 to 500,000 roubles or a term of up to four years in prison. If this crime is committed by an criminal group with the use of violence, infliction of heavy consequences or the use of special technical devices intended for the illegal acquisition of information, a criminal can be put from three to eight years in prison.
The human rights activists already have some questions over the issue, the Kommersant daily reported. Head of the Agora association Pavel Chikov stated that the enactment of the law will facilitate the task of the Federal Security Service, “will provide for a quite broader application of the criminal article for high treason” and will become another step “for the restoration of the Iron Curtain.” “Even the transfer of the information about violations at the elections in Russia can be taken as high treason,” he noted. Head of the Golos association for the protection of the rights of voters Grigory Melkonyants noted that his organization is preparing the reports for the organizations, which give some grants to it, to confirm the targeted spending of the funds, “Actually any publication in the Internet with criticism over the current situation is an act of espionage, according to them, because this automatically provides the information to “the enemy”. “The defence of the so-called state interests”, including a new criminal article, can be also used against journalists, if an incident at major closed-access enterprises is being investigated, Chikov noted.
After the election of the new Russian president “the climate has changed,” and it turned out that “the logic of the times of 60 years ago” is still topical, head of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation Mikhail Vinogradov told the Kommersant daily. In this situation the opposition parties preferred “not to be at odds with the security services,” moreover, nothing depends from their opinion, the expert remarked.
The deputies approved the bill without any debates and almost unanimously, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. This step resulted from a serious explanatory work, he claimed. State Secretary of the Federal Security Service Yuri Gorbunov responded to all specifying questions in the lobby of the State Duma, “No comments.” Meanwhile, the specific State Duma Committee blasted the content of the bill in a final resolution. For instance, the resolution noted that “to rule out the legal vagueness and consequently the possibilities for an arbitrary interpretation the indicators of the corpus delicti should be specified.” The State Duma committee is surprised with the idea to make the term “the disclosure of the state secret” broader to the level, when “each person can be brought to criminal responsibility.” However, the committee gave its recommendations for the first reading.