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Russian Duma approves bill on decriminalization of domestic violence in first reading

The State Duma approved a bill on the decriminalization of domestic violence in its first reading on Wednesday with 368 pro-votes, 1 vote against, and 1 abstention. The bill – which will now be prepared for its second reading – would exclude domestic violence from Russia’s Criminal Code, thereby no longer making it a felony.

The bill proposes making domestic violence – specifically defined as the beating of a relative – an civil offense, with criminal liability applicable in only those cases when the offense is committed two or more times in the same year.

It will still be considered a criminal offense if domestic violence is perpetrated as an act of hooliganism or is motivated by hatred or enmity. In such cases, perpetrators could be sentenced to compulsory work or to up to two years in prison.

“Domestic violence has ... breached the principle of equality of citizens [in the family],” said Yelena Mizulina, one of the bill’s authors.

Articles about perpetrating domestic violence without giving reasons were transferred to Russia’s Civil Code in the summer of 2016 to correct what was seen as discrepancy between punishment for domestic violence and beatings on the street, as the latter were already considered a civil offense.

The civil punishment for beatings comes in the form of a fine of 5 to 30 thousand rubles (approximately $82-$498), arrest for a term of 10 to 15 days, or 60 to 120 hours of compulsory work.

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