It will become even easier for Russians to go to jail: at the close of the spring session the State Duma deputies adopted a package of laws, under which one can be imprisoned for almost anything. For example, for “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces,” for an anti-war stance if it is considered propaganda of Nazism, or even for displaying the Facebook, Instagram and Smart Voting logos. In addition, under the new laws, the state will collect biometric data from Russians without their consent. At the same time, not everyone will suffer from the new laws: owners of luxury residences and elite estates are now protected from the curiosity of journalists and the unfriendly West - real estate data will now be classified.
Prison terms for everyone
One of the adopted laws covers a range of situations for which you can be sent to prison for up to 20 years. It's the law “On criminal liability for calling for actions against the security of Russia, for participating in hostilities against it and for cooperating in confidence with foreign intelligence services.” It introduces new articles into the Criminal Code under which:
- a person will now face a fine of up to 500 thousand rubles or from 2 to 4 years in a colony for “public calls for activities directed against the security of the state”.
- a person will go to jail for up to 20 years and will have to pay a fine of up to 500,000 rubles for participating in hostilities against the interests of Russia.
- the same punishment awaits those who “defect to the side of the enemy during an armed conflict or hostilities,” such an act will be qualified as treason. The law does not specify whether surrendering to the enemy will be qualified as such. “It will definitely be brought to the attention of the military,” Ivan Pavlov, head of the human rights team “First Division,” explained to The Insider. “Political officers will be explaining individually and collectively and will say: 'Now you cannot surrender and will fight to the last man, and those who are taken prisoner will, as before, be welcomed at home with a criminal case.”
- Confidential cooperation of a Russian citizen with foreign intelligence services will be punishable by imprisonment for up to eight years and a fine of up to 1 million rubles. According to Pavlov, this article will extend to simple contacts with any foreign organizations: “In practice, it will be very easy to prove: there will be a certificate or a report, signed by an FSB general, stating that this or that organization has been cooperating with the secret services. A laconic one, without substantiation or factual basis, just a verdict.”
“A laconic one, no substantiation, just a verdict”
- Criminal penalties (up to 7 years in prison) for “illegal transmission abroad of information constituting state secrets” are being introduced. In November 2021, the Ministry of Defense started preparing the ground for convictions under this article and published a draft order on information which constitutes state secrets. The list includes 800 items and almost any information about the Russian Armed Forces can be classified as a state secret.
- Now the “repeated propaganda or public demonstration of symbols of Nazism and extremist organizations” will be punished under a criminal article; a violator could face up to four years in prison. Notably, the company Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, as well as the “Smart Voting” symbols are also considered extremist in Russia. It is also not clear whether monuments will finally be jailed. For example, the monument to SS Gruppenführer Krasnov in the Rostov region and the one to SS Gruppenführer Shkuro on the territory of kindergarten No. 221 in Krasnodar.
Yesterday's school graduates allowed to serve
School grads will now be allowed to go straight into military service upon graduation. Earlier, in order to enter into a military contract, it was necessary to have served in the army for at least three months or to have had a specialized secondary education. The bill was passed despite the fact that it was opposed by the head of the Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children Nina Ostanina.
Owners of palaces hidden from snoopers
Some of the adopted laws concern information on Russian citizens. For example, now banks can transfer citizens' biometric data into the Unified Biometric System (UBS) without their consent. But it's not as bad as it seems: a person will be notified of the transfer. This norm will become effective in March 2023.
Also, the State Duma passed a law to classify data from Rosreestr. At present you can get information about real estate from the Unified State Register of Real Estate database for a small fee, and this information, in particular, serves as a basis for investigations carried out by journalists and the opposition into the property owned Russian politicians and security officials. Now it will be impossible to get an extract confirming the ownership of a palace without the permission of the real estate owner.
Another law gives the Federal Financial Monitoring Service the right to retrieve information from the Unified State Register of Civil Acts. The agency explains that this measure is aimed at combating corruption - it will allow the agency to study the background of the person being checked - to find out whether he or she changed his or her name and to obtain information on his or her marriages.
Companies forced to work around the clock for the Russian army
A number of laws concern the economy of Russia, it is being openly reformatted for the wartime. In particular, a draft law on supplying the armed forces of Russia during operations outside the country was adopted. The government will be able to “reactivate mobilization capacities and facilities” and establish “ conditions of overtime work for individual organizations and enterprises” during night, on weekends and holidays. If such measures are taken, legal entities “regardless of their organizational and legal forms of ownership” will not be able to back out of agreements and contracts on delivery of goods and rendering of services for the army. In such cases, the Defense Ministry will be able to change the terms of a contract even after it has been signed.
The law on the classification of “ information on countering sanctions” was also passed. In fact, data on foreign trade transactions, which may lead to sanctions in the future, will be classified.