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Russian lawmaker proposes imprisonment for defamation committed online

Russian lawmaker Dmitry Vyatkin, from the ruling party United Russia, has submitted a bill to the State Duma proposing up to two years in prison for those convicted of spreading libel online.

Vyatkin proposed adding this provision to the second part of article 128.1 of Russia’s Criminal Code, which outlines liability for slander that appears in public speech, a publicly displayed piece of work, or in mass media. Currently, this is punishable by a fine of up to one million rubles ($13,590) or 240 hours of community service.

The State Duma deputy also proposed punishment of up to two years in prison for libel committed “against several persons, including individually undefined ones” (what this means was not specified). 

In addition, Vyatkin suggested expanding the types of punishments outlined in the other qualifying paragraphs of the article on slander. He proposed adding imprisonment, forced labor, and arrest as possible punishments, in addition to the fines and community service already contained therein.

According to the draft law, the maximum punishment under the article on slander would be five years in prison for “libel combined with accusations against the individual of committing offenses against the sexual inviolability and sexual freedom of a person, or of a grave or especially grave crime.” The current version of the article on slander contains no mention of sexual offences.

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