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Russian lawmakers add amendment on ‘harassment’ to draft legislation against domestic violence

Source: RBC

Federal lawmakers developing legislation that would introduce a formal concept of domestic violence in Russia have reportedly added language concerning harassment. The amendments will be reflected in the final version of the bill that will be submitted to the State Duma, co-author Oksana Pushkina told the website RBC.

The legislation’s sponsors are also proposing stricter penalties for violations of restraining orders, which the bill would introduce for the first time in Russia. Lawmakers want to impose administrative liability on first-time offenders (allowing for short jail sentences, not just fines), and treat repeat offenses as felonies.

Deputies’ new amendments would also prohibit violence-prevention community groups from reporting incidents to the police without the victims' consent.

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.

On November 16, State Duma deputy Oksana Pushkina reported threats against several of the activists working to develop the new legislation against domestic violence.