Henceforth any non-official point of view on the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russian authorities can easily turn into an excuse for prosecution, indicates Fyodor Krasheninnikov.
There’s something deeply symbolic in the fact that the first documents submitted to the Duma after the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, became not bills school Lunches, pensions or the protection of animals, and suggestions for further strengthening of repressive piece of legislation. The package of such laws, involving, in particular the extension of the infamous article about extremism, it is planned to adopt in three readings before the end of July.
The laws of the era Zero
Citing made to the Constitution an amendment prohibiting the alienation from Russia any territories, the authors of the bill, in essence, criminalise any alternative semi-official opinion on Russia’s borders.
Article 280 of the Criminal code (“Public calls to extremist activity”) will complete the second part of “the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”. As a punishment it is offered to deprive of freedom for a period from six to ten years.
As a private citizen can violate the territorial integrity of Russia – is not clear. But other innovations announced by the head of the Duma Committee on legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov, it is quite clear from the point of view of their repressive applications: for calls that can be construed as propaganda against the territorial integrity of Russia and its citizens face administrative responsibility – fines from 30 to 60 thousand rubles. For officials the fine from 60 to 100 thousand rubles, for legal entities – from 200 to 300 thousand rubles. Repeated appeals to violation of territorial integrity will already entail criminal liability with a fine of 400 thousand rubles or deprivation of liberty for a term up to four years.
Judging by the recent sentencing of journalist Svetlana Prokopieva, the reason for the award a huge penalty in Russia and may now become objectionable to the authorities or law enforcement agencies journalistic statement – important to find the right “experts”. But the announced amendments significantly expand opportunities for persecution of those who disagree with the government.
In the light of all the sad practice of application of article about extremism, we can assume that now any different from the official interpretation of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its consequences will be easy to turn into a cause for administrative and later criminal prosecution – whether it is a private position of the citizen or the party program. For example, in a difficult position gets the party “Yabloko”, which in 2014 takes a firm stance on the Crimean issue in their party documents calls to return the Peninsula to Ukraine.
In the area of risk are opposition politicians, activists, journalists, publicists and bloggers. Before, the answer to the question about the attitude to the annexation of the Peninsula living in Russia the opposition had to carefully choose the expression, but once the proposed amendments are adopted, this question can be fatal: it will be necessary or even refuse to talk about the Crimea, or be prepared to pay the price for his words – not only money, but also freedom.
The Constitution of unanimity
Despite the fact that July 1 was adopted, only amendments to the text of the Basic law of 1993, the old Constitution with all its declared liberal freedoms and civil rights virtually abolished. It is not surprising that some hotheads offered to make July 1 a public holiday instead of June 12. And this is quite logical: from the Russia that symbolizes this holiday, in a moral sense left with virtually nothing.
Those who thought that public resistance to the amendments and inconsiderate procedure, their adoption will make the government a sobering effect, was wrong, or they underestimated their opponents. The main conclusion that the Russian authorities made the last vote – we need even harder to suppress all dissidents and malcontents to next voting, they did not dare even think about some kind of resistance and always remember that they can be punished is simply different from the official position opinion.
It is obvious that the government is not going to make any compromises or concessions are not willing to adjust your course, even seeing the discontent of certain groups of the population. All the challenges the Kremlin is one answer – increased pressure on civil society and expanding opportunities for new repression.
Immediately after the vote, Senator Alexei Kondratiev proposed to declare traitors all who campaigned against the amendments, and to punish them. Despite the extravagance and anti-constitutional appeals that the idea of criminalizing any dissent clearly like the inhabitants of the Kremlin, and therefore you can be sure that the discussion is now a new repressive laws will not be the last.
Change for the worse in Russia are gaining momentum, and the first days of life of Russia in the amended Constitution leaves no doubt as to which way is the Russian society Vladimir Putin rallied around him and the ruling elite.