Russian Parliament Passes Anti-Extremism Bill

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti) ­ The Russian State Duma passed a bill imposing tougher penalties for extremism-related crimes Wednesday.

The legislation, which the lower chamber of parliament passed in second and third readings, increases the prison sentence for public incitement of extremism from three to four years, and also raises fines for the offence.

The penalty for inciting hatred or enmity or for abasing human dignity would be raised from two to four years compulsory labor, with fines increased from  100,000-300,000 rubles to 300,000-500,000 rubles.

The bill also sets out tougher punishments for organizing extremist groups and for membership of a secular or religious organization banned on the grounds of extremism.

The bill, which was submitted to parliament on June 22, 2013, has been criticized by human rights advocates, who argue that anti-extremism legislation has often been used to clamp down on dissent rather than to fight genuine threats to public order.

They also claim that the definition of extremist is subject to interpretation by prosecutors and investigators.