After a turbulent discussion of the 1st reading of the lawbill on citizens' religious feelings, it has undergone major changes by the 2nd reading. Aside from softer punishment, the lawbill envisions less complicated wordings. Nevertheless, moot points have remained. Rights activists claimed that the enforcement of the new legislation will result in arbitrary practices.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily says the amendments to the lawbill are "significant." The penalty for public actions which show obvious disrespect to the society, and which have been committed with the view of hurting the believers' religious feelings, might be a fine up to 300,000 roubles or even two years in jail. The same offense committed in "places of worship is punished by a fine up to 500,000 roubles or a three-year jail term. Illegal obstruction of the activities by religious organizations and officiating is punishable by one year in a penal colony. "It the wrongdoer uses his office position or threatens violence, the jail term might increase to two years.
However, there is a disputed point in the lawbill, the RBK Daily notes, namely the penalty for malicious public desecration of religious literature, objects of worship, or their destruction or damage. Lawyer Genry Reznik said copying articles from the Code of Administrative Offences to the Criminal Code during the drawing of the lawbill is politically motivated, and that the application of the law would result in arbitrariness. "Lawmakers are replacing bad laws with worse ones," the lawyer said. For example, the new legislation has the notion "signs or emblems of world outlook symbols" and "items of religious worship" which are not spelled out in legislation. The State Duma's legal department pointed out at the fact in its conclusion. Reznik said wordings might apply to the emblem of Dove of Peace or the Red Cross symbol.