On Tuesday, June 11, Russian State Duma, the lower house of Russian Parliament, approved in a second and a third reading 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 Russian President.
According to the bill, 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.
Author: Julia Alieva