MOSCOW, June 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved a bill that would make insulting religious believers’ feelings a criminal offense, punishable by up to three years behind bars.
The controversial bill, submitted to the State Duma in late September, was backed by 308 lawmakers and opposed by just two, garnering the minimum 226 votes necessary for approval.
The legislation will come into effect next month if passed by the upper house of parliament – the Federation Council – and signed by President Vladimir Putin.
The bill was prepared in the wake of the all-female punk band Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” protest at a prominent Moscow cathedral, in which they called for the Virgin Mary to banish Putin.
Two Pussy Riot members are currently serving two-year prison terms for that protest, on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
Under the bill tentatively approved on Tuesday in its second and third readings, publicly insulting the feelings of religious believers, including by vandalism or the desecration of holy sites, would be punishable by a fine of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,000), compulsory labor and/or up to three years in prison.
Obstructing the activities of a religious organization or the holding of a religious ceremony would also be a criminal offense, punishable by a 300,000 ruble ($9,000) fine and/or up to three months behind bars.
If a state official commits that offense, he or she would be sent to prison for up to a year and be barred from government posts for up to two years. Any Russian who publicly desecrates or destroys a religious object on purpose would face a fine up to 200,000 rubles ($6,000).
The bill, along with federal legislation against the promotion of homosexuality, is strongly supported by numerous conservative activist groups, in line with the position of the Russian Orthodox Church.
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- Mikhail1228A very good law!17:26, 12/06/2013As a Russian Orthodox Christian I am very happy to read this story!
- majwilliammartinWhat would Jesus do?12:09, 13/06/2013Bible history shows the Jesus would stand and address the crowds. As did Paul and others who stood in the city centers and spoke the "Good News!"
While a Law like this will or I should say is designed to "Protect" some it will harm others.
This is noted that many have no problems with Jewish people, though they openly oppose what Israel's POLICY is.
This is like using the term anti-Semitic when one talks of a Nations/States policy towards other "Tribes."
To carry this further, It seems perfectly OK to make villains out of ALL Muslim's and Arab's over the few who actually commit terrorism. Yet here in the USA they openly put posters in the Subway's of New York and our Emails Inbox are flooded with anti-Arab and Muslim propaganda.
I too as a Christian think this is a good law if it is not twisted to fit the agenda of others.
So if this law should pass, there should be a clear definition as to whether the Insult would be towards a Person or a Person's Governmental Policy. For within the Freedoms of ones speech one must be able to say what is wrong with our society without it offending someones "Belief's".
- Mikhail1228Orthodox Christianity16:23, 13/06/2013I believe this law is to bolster the governments defense against those that would hatefully attack the established Orthodox Faith. Since 988 AD Orthodoxy has been an integral part of Russia. I am an American, but my soul is Russian and Orthodox. Russian history and culture is interwoven with Orthodoxy like a quilt. Russia is not the USA and never wants to be like the USA. Because our Christian Faith is in our soul those that want to attack Russia covertly will attack it like Pussy Riot and then Western Media blows it all out of proportion.
Earlier this month, Russia hosted the Fourth International Meeting of the Arctic Council at Naryan-Mar, a seaport in the Barents Sea, to discuss issues relating to the infrastructure and safety of ships passing through the Northern Sea Route (NSR).