Saint Petersburg, June 26 (RAPSI) – The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, has approved a bill introducing criminal liability for insulting the feelings of religious faithful, stipulating a sentence of up to three years behind bars.
The document involves a new edition of article 148 of the Penal Code (Violations of the right to freedom of conscience and religion).
The forms of punishment offered for public actions that are openly disrespectful to society and offensive to the feelings of believers, including actions taken at sacred sites, places of prayer, and other religious rites, include up to three years in prison, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($ 15,510) and compulsory and correctional labor.
A more severe penalty is foreseen to prevent the functioning of religious organizations or religious rites. The fine will be reduced from 80,000 rubles ($ 2,480) to 300,000 rubles ($ 9,305). The possibility of an arrest of up to three months has been asserted.
An even harsher penalty is implied for acts accomplished through abuse of an official position or violence, or the threat of violence, with up to one year in prison and deprivation of the right to hold certain positions and ‘carry out certain activities for up to two years.
Fines for violating the laws on freedom of conscience and worship and religious associations will increase to 100,000 rubles ($ 3,100). Willful public desecration of religious or theological literature or items of religious service, and their deterioration or destruction, will be punishable by fines of up to 200,000 rubles ($ 6,200).
If signed by the president, the law will come into force on July 1, 2013.