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Russian parliamentary committee rejects draft legislation that would decriminalize reposting ‘extremist’ content on social media

The State Duma’s Security and Counteracting Corruption Committee has refused to support draft legislation that would lift felony penalties on reposting “extremist” content on social media. Committee chairman Vasily Piskarev told the news agency RIA Novosti that the bill is written “incorrectly from a legal perspective,” and stressed that the idea needs to be reworked and submitted to experts, before lawmakers take action.

Drafted by deputies Sergey Shargunov and Alexey Zharavlev, the decriminalization initiative has also failed to win support from the State Duma’s State Construction and Legislation Committee, the government, and the Supreme Court, which called the legislation “contradictory.” Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova, however, has endorsed the bill.

In recent years, Russia's police have grown ever fonder of prosecuting Internet users for sharing supposed “extremist” content on social media. In 2011, just 149 people were convicted of extremism because of Internet posts. In 2017, the number of convictions surpassed 600. In the first six months of 2018, Russian police charged 762 Internet users with extremism.