Russia enacts law permitting confiscation of property for ‘disseminating fake news’ News / Public Domain
Russia enacts law permitting confiscation of property for ‘disseminating fake news’

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday calling for confiscation of property for those who commit crimes “detrimental to national security” and those who disseminate fake news about Russia’s military according to TASS. Russian lawmakers previously passed the bill through the Duma in January. With Putin’s signature, the bill has now become law.

According to TASS, the law expands the list of crimes which can be punished by confiscation of property to Russia Criminal Code (RCC) Article 207.3, which covers dissemination of “patently false” information about the Russian armed forces or Russian State Bodies, and RCC Article 280.4, which covers public calls to carry out activities directed against state security. The list includes 30 total RCC articles.

Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin had earlier revealed on Telegram the details of the bill enabling the confiscation of funds or assets used for alleged criminal activities against Russian security. The legislation reportedly targets offenses specified in Articles 207, 354, and 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, 1996. It also addresses false information about the Russian Armed Forces, the incitement of extremism, actions discrediting the Armed Forces, calls for violating Russian integrity, the aiding of non-partner international organizations and advocacy supporting sanctions against Russia.

Thomson Reuters and the Committee to Protect Journalists created a guide describing actions journalists can take to avoid being prosecuted by these laws. Article 207 and Article 280.4 were introduced by the State Duma in March 2022. The guide states that penalties for spreading “knowingly false information” about Russian Armed forces could be punished with a fine, a year of corrective labor, and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

This law continues a pattern of government repression of free expression and speech by the Russian government. The enactment follows Russia’s investigation into Duolingo for alleged “LGBT propaganda” and the declaration of the “international LGBT movement” as an extremist group. Despite the law’s recent enactment, Russia investigated journalists for “discrediting” its armed forces and “disseminating fake news” prior to the law being signed by Putin.