Russian State Duma amends Criminal Code

Deputies of the Russian State Duma have adopted amendments to the Criminal Code in the first reading. After the final approval of these amendments, the violator at a national vote on the amendments to the Constitution can be fined one million Russian rubles (about $14,000) or jailed for five years.

Four articles of the Criminal Code will be amended. One of them is Article 141 (Impeding the exercise of electoral rights or the work of election commissions) It can be applied to those who want to protest on the day of voting, April 22. This opinion was expressed by Russian human rights activist Mark Feigin in his comment to Belsat:

“Earlier, this norm applied only to elections. There was no need for it in the absence of popular vote. Of course, it is clear that the practice will be more rigid, since this is basically a plebiscite about against Putin. Naturally, this will be treated more seriously, and people who will try to stand up to all this with some sort of single picket or alternative ballots, or something like that, will certainly be drawn to responsibility. It is also a common practice to remove an observer from a polling station during an illegal vote count. They resist and, most likely, such norm of the criminal code can be applied to him or her too”.

In the morning of March 11, the State Duma voted for amendments to the Russian Constitution in the final third reading. Then the amendments were supported in the Federation Council. In particular, those that will allow the current head of state Vladimir Putin to stay in his post for two more terms in a row. Now the bill on amendments to the Constitution will be sent to the regions. If it is approved by two-thirds of local parliaments, the Council of Federation can already approve the results of the law’s review at an unscheduled meeting on March 14. Also, the Constitutional Court of Russia should study the legality of the amendment to reset presidency terms. The All-Russian vote on this issue is scheduled for April 22.