Russian lawmakers mull seizing assets of Ukraine war dissenters

The Russian parliament is currently deliberating on a significant bill that would grant the state the authority to confiscate the assets of individuals convicted of defaming the country’s security forces. This proposed legislation has the potential to impact a wide range of Russian citizens, particularly those who have expressed dissent towards the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, including individuals who have left the country but continue to generate income from properties they own in Russia.

Introduction to the Proposed Legislation

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, has put forth amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes. These amendments focus on the confiscation of property belonging to individuals who have engaged in public activities that are deemed to be aimed against the state’s security or have discredited the armed forces. Notably, the bill has garnered support from various officials, including Vyacheslav Volodin, the current speaker of the State Duma.

Targeted Individuals and Their Assets

If the bill comes into effect, it would empower the state to seize the assets of Russians who have voiced criticism of the war in Ukraine, even if they are residing outside the country and earning rental income from their properties in Russia. This potential legislation underscores the severity of penalties that dissenting individuals could face, especially in light of the existing restrictions on criticizing Russia’s military actions.

Intent Behind the Legislative Proposal

The proposed bill aligns with the goal of imposing stricter penalties on individuals who oppose the actions of the Russian government and its military operations. Vyacheslav Volodin, a key ally of President Vladimir Putin, has openly referred to the bill as “the scoundrel law” and emphasized the importance of holding accountable those who seek to harm Russia or act against its interests. According to Volodin, those found guilty of discrediting the armed forces could also be stripped of any honorary titles they hold.
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Repercussions for Critics and Activists

Currently, Russian law encompasses provisions that criminalize actions deemed to discredit the country’s military, which encompasses offenses such as justifying terrorism and disseminating false information about the armed forces. This framework has frequently been utilized to target critics of President Putin and his administration. Consequently, numerous activists, bloggers, and individuals within Russia have faced lengthy prison sentences as a result of this legislation.

Notable Cases Under the Existing Law

The implementation of the existing law against discrediting the Russian military has had far-reaching implications, as illustrated by the legal actions taken against individuals well-known in literary circles. Reports surfaced that acclaimed novelist Boris Akunin had been charged under the law and subsequently included in a register of “extremists and terrorists,” while fellow writer Dmitry Glukhovsky was convicted in absentia and handed an eight-year prison sentence for disseminating false information about the armed forces.

Conclusion

The ongoing legislative deliberations in the Russian parliament reflect a broader crackdown on dissent and criticism of the government’s military endeavors. If enacted, the proposed bill would introduce more severe measures to penalize individuals who express opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Furthermore, it underscores the intensification of efforts to stifle dissent and reinforces the potential ramifications faced by those who challenge the government’s policies and conduct.

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