Russia is set to introduce tougher laws against the spread of fake news and disinformation that endangers its national security. The country’s lower house, the State Duma, recently passed a new bill that includes provisions for asset forfeiture for individuals found guilty of committing crimes against Russia’s national security. These crimes specifically target the spreading of “fakes” and disinformation about the Russian Armed Forces.
Initially, the law only covered the regular armed forces, but it has been expanded to protect volunteer fighters as well. This expansion aligns with Russia’s ongoing commitment to safeguard its military from slander and disinformation, especially in the wake of the conflict with Ukraine. The proposed amendments to the criminal code outline severe penalties for offenders, including fines ranging from 100,000 to 1.5 million rubles, imprisonment for up to 15 years, and a ban on holding public office for those found guilty of repeat offenses causing serious harm.
In addition to imposing fines and imprisonment, the new legislation allows for the seizure of money and assets acquired through the commission of these specific crimes or used as instruments for criminal activities. The assets subject to seizure are directly linked to criminal activities and do not extend to ordinary citizens or generalized assets. This approach aims to deter further criminal activities and confiscate illegal gains obtained from such actions.
Other Offenses Included
Alongside combatting the spread of fake news about the Russian military, the amendments also introduce asset confiscation for offenses such as public calls for actions damaging state security, sabotage, and the justification of Nazism. The comprehensive nature of the legislation reflects Russia’s resolve to address a wide spectrum of activities that pose a threat to its national security and societal integrity.
Political Representatives’ Perspectives
The bill garnered unanimous approval from the State Duma, with the chair, Vyacheslav Volodin, dubbing it a “law against villains.” He emphasized that the legislation aims to punish “traitors” who denigrate their nation while residing abroad. Additionally, other representatives clarified that the measures primarily target public speakers, like bloggers, who profit from spreading disinformation, rather than ordinary citizens.
Reactions and Clarifications
Irina Pankina, the first deputy head of the State Duma’s legislation commission, clarified that the asset seizure stipulated by the bill is not a punitive measure akin to Soviet-era confiscations. Instead, it serves as a preventative and confiscatory measure aimed at curbing criminal activities and reclaiming illicit gains. Moreover, Russian MP Aleksey Chepa emphasized that the legislation’s impact on everyday citizens would be minimal, as its primary focus is on individuals who profit from disseminating false information.
Russia’s move to introduce stricter laws against the spread of fake news and disinformation reflects its commitment to safeguarding national security and upholding the integrity of its armed forces. The legislation, which allows for asset forfeiture and severe penalties, signifies a robust stance against activities deemed detrimental to the country’s security. As the legislative process progresses, these measures aim to act as a deterrent to individuals and entities engaged in the dissemination of false information, further underscoring the nation’s commitment to combating disinformation and protecting its national interests.