A commission inside the Russian Orthodox Church announced earlier today that new amendments approved by the State Duma to the country's criminal code, providing criminal punishment for beating one's own relatives, contradict the church's teachings on the family. Church officials argue that the Holy Scriptures and sacred traditions “regard the possibility of reasonable and loving use of physical punishment as an integral part of the established rights of parents by God Himself.”
The church says the amendments “lack moral justifications and legal grounds” and go in the face of the family and “the understanding of parents' rights accepted by Russian culture.” Church officials say the legislation is “discriminatory” and ignores the family values upon which Russian society is built. The church stresses that it only has in mind physical punishments that do not harm children's health.
There is no doubt that children should be protected from truly criminal acts, whoever commits these acts—especially when it comes to criminal violence. But there's no real reason to criminalize the reasonable and moderate use of physical violence by loving parents when raising their children.
On June 21, the State Duma approved legislation proposing administrative, but not criminal, penalties for first-time offenders convicted of beatings that don't pose a serious health threat. At the same time, beatings targeting close relatives, as well as attacks based on hatred and hooliganism, will be criminal offenses. Vladimir Putin signed the legislation into law on July 4.
In May 2015, Elena Mizulina (then a deputy in the State Duma and head of the committee on family, women, and children) opposed the introduction of separate punishments for domestic violence, calling the idea “overblown” and claiming that “all the necessary statutes for protecting victims are already present in our laws.”