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Russian State Duma adopts package of anti-terrorist bills

The amendments will take effect on July 20

MOSCOW, June 24. /TASS/. Russia’s State Duma on Friday adopted in the second and third, final reading a package of anti-terrorist bills proposed by lower house member Irina Yarovaya and upper house member Viktor Ozerov.

The initiatives sparked great public controversy and continued to be edited up to the last moment. Eventually the idea of terminating the Russian citizenship of those dual or multiple citizens who have committed terrorist crimes or proved to have been employed by foreign special services was dropped. Under the just-adopted version communication operators will be obliged to keep information about their subscribers’ connections for a period of three years, and of the content transmitted, including videos, for six months. For the owners of messenger services and social networks these rules have been eased somewhat: they will be not allowed to delete information about the content transmitted and their users for twelve months, and not three years, contrary to the original version of the bill.

Messenger services, such as WhatsApp and Telegram will be fined up to one million rubles, should they refuse to disclose content at the request of the federal security service FSB.

Anti-sect amendments

A special group of amendments defines what "missionary activity" is and prohibits attempts to conduct it on behalf of religious associations whose aims contradict the law. The legislators banned missionary activities that violate public security and order, extremist actions, coercion into ruining families, and encroachments on the freedom of the person and rights and freedoms of citizens. A ban is imposed on missionary activities aimed at inducing suicide, at creating obstructions to getting mandatory education and at persuasion of individuals to refuse to perform their legally mandatory civic duties.

Missionary and preaching activities that breech legislation on the freedom of conscience and faith and on religious associations will be punishable with a fine of 5,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles ($77 to $7700) for individuals, and 100,000 rubles to 1,000,000 ($1,500 to $15,000). Foreign citizens will face expulsion from Russia. Under the new rules, all printed, audio and video content being distributed by a religious organization must have proper markings and bear the organization’s full name.

Life sentence for international terrorism

The Criminal Code’s list of crimes against peace and security of humanity was expanded to incorporate "international terrorism" and life imprisonment established as the maximum punishment. The minimum prison term for a terrorist attack will be increased from eight years to ten and from ten years to twelve (if the crime was committed by a group of persons or resulted in loss of human life).

The newly-adopted law contains a new, fuller definition of the financing of terrorism. It will be understood as "provision or raising of funds or provision of financial services with the awareness that they are meant for financing a terrorist organization, or plotting or committing terrorist crimes."

Public calls for terrorism or statements made in public in the Internet with the aim of excusing it will be punishable with a fine of up to 1,000,000 rubles ($15,000) or a prison term of five to seven years. Publicly expressed excuses are defined as "public statements to the effect the ideology and practices of terrorism are correct and worth supporting and following." Participation in a terrorist organization will be punishable with prison terms of ten to twenty years (in contrast to the currently established ones of five to ten years).

Failure to report a terrorist attack

Failure to report preparations for terrorist crimes or committed terrorist crimes will entail a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($15,000) or forced labor of up to twelve months or a twelve-month prison term. Failure to report preparations for a terrorist attack or a committed terrorist attack by one’s spouse or close relative will not be punishable.

Minimum punishments

Punishments for organizing or participating in armed groups, including those abroad will be tightened. The maximum prison term for this offence is raised to five years. The Criminal Code is complemented with a new article establishing punishment for suborning into or recruitment for mass unrest. Such wrongdoing will be fined with 300,000 rubles to 700,000 rubles ($4,600 to $10,800) or a prison term of five to ten years.

Minimum punishments have been introduced under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (Incitement of Hatred or Humiliation of Human Dignity). The mildest punishment is set at three years and the maximum one, at six. Punishment for organizing an extremist organization or extremist community or financing extremist activities was tightened accordingly.

The age of accountability for terrorism is lowered to 14 years. The list of aggravating circumstances has been expanded to incorporate crimes committed in the context of an armed conflict or combat operations.

The amendments will take effect on July 20, 2016.