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On Tuesday, September 25, the State Duma approved unanimously the statement for the protection of religious feelings of Russian citizens. The new bill envisages a term of up to three years in prison for the insulting of religious feelings of the believers. Soon a bill that envisages a term in prison for vandalism against religious facilities and objects of cult will be approved as well.
The Novye Izvestia daily reported that, according to the lawmakers, a strict responsibility should be introduced for the insulting of religious feelings of Russian compatriots. “It got down to the facts that the announcements are posted in the social networks with the proposals to pay for cross-cutting, the inscription of insulting sayings and the desecration of religious rites and religious symbols,” Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Public Associations and Religious Organizations Yaroslav Nilov said with indignation. Only the article of the Criminal Code for vandalism is envisaged for these offences with a fine of up to 40,000 roubles or compulsory or correctional works, or a term of up to three months in prison.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported in the article titled “The third millennium. New Medieval Ages” that the insulters of religious feelings with be punished with a fine of 200,000 roubles or correctional works or a term from two to four years in prison depending on the graveness of the offence, Nilov explained. Meanwhile, the motivation of the crime will be taken into account, “For instance, an offender sew off the cross for money. The silliness and greed deserve a more lenient punishment than the deliberate intention to insult the believers. Today, if a person desecrates the Koran or an icon, he can be fined from 500 to 1,000 roubles under the Code of Administrative Offences. The criminal article for hooliganism that carries a term in prison is permanently sought to be changed to an administrative verdict, as the Pussy Riot trial showed,” Nilov stated.
The Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported that the deputies intend to toughen responsibility for the insulting of religious feelings of people and for the desecration of the shrines, which the believers are venerating, and note “the importance of the irreversibility of punishment for such offences.” State Duma Vice-Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak told reporters on Tuesday that the United Russia faction together with members of other factions will move in relevant amendments in the effective legal acts for consideration in the State Duma soon. “The legislation should make it possible to curb efficiently the crimes, which are seeking to instigate interreligious strife,” Zheleznyak noted.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported that a statement, which all four factions have made, dwells on the protection of the feelings of the believers from different confessions with a careful emphasis on the special role of the Russian Orthodox Church “in the forming and development of national spirituality and culture” and the main target of a campaign, which was unleashed by “destructive forces, which praise anti-religious extremism, vandalism and hooliganism” and “instigate hatred in the society” to religious organizations. Concrete evil-minded destructive forces were not named. Although the punishment should be toughened for the desecration of the shrines, which the believers are venerating, and a more intensive work for “religious enlightenment of the society” in order “to build up civil peace and accord.”