Activists working to develop legislation to curb domestic violence in Russia have started receiving threats on social media, says State Duma deputy Oksana Pushkina, who has co-authored a draft bill in parliament. Law-enforcement agencies were alerted to the threats last week, according to Pushkina, who says the messages were addressed to Alyona Popova, a Moscow lawyer and women’s rights activist, and the attorneys Mari Davtyan and Alexey Parshin, who are defending the Khachaturyan sisters (three women charged with murdering their abusive father).
Pushkina says a “well-organized and well-funded campaign” has mobilized to fight the adoption of their domestic-violence legislation. She compares the movement to protests by radical Christians who opposed the release of a film in 2017 about the romance between ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya and Nicholas II (before he became tsar).
Protests against Alexey Uchitel’s movie “Matilda” were organized by the “Sorok Sorokov” (Forty Times Forty) movement, which has also declared a “nationwide resistance rally” against the adoption of legislation that raises the penalties for domestic violence, calling the reforms an unnecessary government intrusion.
In 2017, the Russian government decriminalized first-offense domestic violence (defined as the beating of a relative), supposedly to correct what was seen as discrepancy between punishment for violence in the home and beatings on the street (as the latter were considered a misdemeanor). Since even before this legislation, women’s rights activists have lobbied for a formal concept of felony domestic abuse in Russian law. This October, State Duma deputies started discussing a new draft of these reforms, and supporters say they hope to submit the legislation officially before the end of the year.