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Russian lawmakers adopt final reading of legislation making ‘insulting WWII veterans’ a felony

The Russian State Duma has adopted the third and final reading of a package of amendments to the criminal code making it a felony to publicly slander World War II veterans. 

Individuals charged with disseminating knowingly false information about Second World War veterans via the media or the Internet will now face fines ranging from two million to five million rubles ($27,000 to $67,700), or up to five years in prison. 

The package also included amendments to the administrative code article on abuse of freedom of the media, which outline fines for legal entities ranging from three million to five million rubles ($40,600 to $67,7000) “for the public dissemination of knowingly false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of the Second World War [or] about veterans of the Great Patriotic War” and “for public insult to the memory of the defenders of the Fatherland or slandering Great Patriotic War veterans.”

This package of amendments was submitted by State Duma lawmaker Irina Yarovaya two days after a Moscow court fined jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny 850,000 rubles (about $11,380) for insulting WWII veteran Ignat Artemenko. Navalny’s supposed speech crime was saying that the people who appeared in a promotional video last year supporting the government’s constitutional reforms were “corrupt bootlickers” and “traitors.” (Artemenko briefly appeared in the video.)

The amendments making insulting veterans a felony were made to criminal code article 354.1, on “the rehabilitation of Nazism.” Irina Yarovaya co-authored the bill on making rehabilitating Nazism a felony; she was also involved in drafting Russia’s “foreign agents” law, and spearheading controversial “counter-terrorism” legislation in 2016 that broadly expanded police powers and data collection.

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