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Russian Senate supports bill on asset confiscation as punishment for 'discrediting' army

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 8, 2024 8:48 AM 2 min read
The Standard of the President of the Russian Federation atop the dome of the Senate Palace in downtown Moscow on Feb. 7, 2024. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, voted on Feb. 7 in support of a bill that broadens the range of crimes punishable by asset confiscations, including for people convicted of "discrediting" or spreading "fake news" about the Russian military.

Russia criminalized statements or acts considered to be "discrediting" or spreading "unreliable information" about the military in March 2022, broadly seen as a means to crack down on domestic anti-war opposition.

Asset confiscation is a form of punishment currently only applicable in a conviction of financing terrorism, extremist activities, illegal armed groups, and criminal organizations.

The bill would expand the list to 30 other crimes that the Russian Criminal Code refers to as "activities directed against state security."

These crimes include distributing "fake news," sabotage, disclosure of state secrets, desertion, and calls for "anti-state" activities.

The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, adopted the bill in its third and final reading on Jan. 31, after being first introduced in the parliament on Jan. 22

Only three lawmakers in the Federation Council voted against the bill, which was passed in the first reading. Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, "warned lawmakers that the vote would be a roll call, and it would be taken into account in their subsequent re-election," BBC's Russia Service reported.

The bill also proposes amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, which would allow the authorities "to arrest and confiscate property from other persons who are not suspects or accused," the BBC's Russia Service said.

The bill is expected to become law soon, once it is signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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