Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a defamation bill into law© RIA Novosti. Alexei Druzhinin
MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a defamation bill into law, the Kremlin press service said on Monday.
The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, has removed an originally proposed custodial sentence provision from the defamation bill. Defamation will be punished by community work (up to 480 hours) or a fine. The maximum possible fine will be 5 million rubles ($160,000).
President Vladimir Putin recently said the defamation statute should be reinstated in the Criminal Code.
Until now the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses stipulated fines of just 2,000 to 3,000 rubles (up to $100) for defamation.
The bill, which was passed by the Russian parliament within a week of being filed, has drawn fierce condemnation from critics who say it is intended to silence the opposition.
Journalists staged a series of pickets outside the Duma building, but failed to influence the lawmakers.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.