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Russia’s State Duma passes bill on life imprisonment for “sabotage” in first reading

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Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has passed a bill on life imprisonment for “sabotage,” originally introduced on December 8, in its first reading. Over 300 Duma deputies signed off on the approval.

If the law is adopted, Russia’s Criminal Code will expand with the following articles: 281.1 (Facilitating subversion), 281.2 (Training for subversion) and 281.3 (Organization of and participation in a subversive community).

Establishment of a subversive community could face 15 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 1 million roubles ($15,500) or a life sentence. Incitement to sabotage will be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while participants in subversive associations will be imprisoned for 5 to 10 years and fined up to 500,000 roubles ($7,750). Arming or financing sabotage will be punished by 8 to 15 years in prison and a fine of 300,000 to 700,000 roubles ($4,650 to $10,850), or life in prison. The financing of sabotage using one's official position will be punished by 10 to 20 years in jail with a fine of up to 1 million roubles ($15,500), or life in prison.

Exemption from criminal responsibility could be granted if a person contributed to the prevention of a crime, which he had previously contributed to or financed. “Sabotage” (Article 281 of Russia’s Criminal Code) is currently punished by 10 to 20 years imprisonment or life imprisonment.

An explanatory note to the law states that the amendment will make it possible to counteract the involvement of citizens in “dangerous subversive activities and incitement to commit a crime,” as well as to increase the “guarantees” of citizens’ safety of life and health.

On August 16, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the explosions at an ammunition depot in annexed Crimea near Dzhankoi were the result of sabotage. Russia's “head” of the region, Sergey Aksyonov, responded by introducing a state of emergency across Crimea. The “sabotage” resulted in damage to a military warehouse, power lines, a power plant, a railroad track, and a number of residential buildings.

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