Moscow, June 11, Interfax - The State Duma has passed a bill that would criminalize insults of the religious feelings of believers and make them punishable by up to three years in jail.
The bill would broaden Article 148 of the Criminal Code which deals with criminal liability for obstructing the administering of the freedom of conscience and religious freedom principles.
This article has been supplemented with provisions listing sanctions "for public moves that convey overt disrespect for society and are aimed at insulting the religious feelings of citizens." This offence would be punishable by a fine of up to 300,000 rubles, or amounting to the offender's pay for up to two years, or by mandatory labor lasting up to 240 hours, or forced labor of up to 12 months, or prison confinement of up to 12 months.
Should these moves be committed in places specially allotted for conducting religious services or ceremonies, they would be punishable by a fine amounting to up to 500,000 rubles, or by the offender's pay for up to three years, or by mandatory labor lasting up to 480 hours, or forced labor of up to three years, or prison confinement of up to three years.
The bill would amend the Code of Administrative Offences.
"Intentional desecration of religious or church literature, objects of religious worship, and religious emblems and symbols, or their damage or destruction would be fined by 30,000 to 50,000 rubles, or be punished by mandatory labor lasting up to 120 hours. Officials committing such offences would be fined 100,000 to 200,000 rubles.
Criminal liability will be tightened for the illegal obstruction of religious organizations' activities or religious rites and ceremonies, envisioned in Article 148. The maximum fine envisioned for such an offence has been increased from 80,000 to 300,000 rubles.
If these offences are committed through abuse of authority or with the use of violence, the fine would amount to 200,000 rubles, or the offender's pay for up to 12 months, or mandatory labor lasting up to 480 hours, or correctional labor of up to 2 years, or forced labor lasting up to 12 months, or 12-month prison confinement.
The bill is expected to enter force on July 1.