Russian Lawmakers Propose Confiscating Assets of Those Spreading False Information about Armed Forces

Moscow – Russian lawmakers are drafting a bill that would permit the seizure of assets from individuals spreading what they deem as “deliberately false information” about the country’s armed forces. Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, stated that this legislation would also encompass acts of betrayal such as discrediting the armed forces, advocating for sanctions against Russia, or inciting extremist activities.

In a post on Telegram, Volodin asserted that those who attempt to undermine or betray Russia must face appropriate punishment and compensate for the harm inflicted on the nation by forfeiting their own property. This bill is scheduled to be presented to the State Duma on Monday.

Since its military involvement in Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has been intensifying its crackdown on any form of political dissent. Discrediting the armed forces or disseminating false information about them have already been subject to lengthy imprisonment under laws passed in March of that year.

The proposed legislation raises concerns about free speech and the ability of individuals to express dissenting viewpoints without fear of repercussions. Critics argue that it may be used as a tool to stifle legitimate criticism and silence opposition voices in the country.

This move by Russian lawmakers is part of a broader trend of tightening control over information flow and suppressing dissent within the country. Critics fear that it will further shrink the space for independent journalism and limit the ability of journalists and citizens to hold the government accountable.

The bill’s opponents argue that it violates the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, fundamental rights enshrined in international human rights agreements. They point out that any measure targeting information deemed to be false is prone to abuse and may be selectively enforced to silence dissenting voices.

The proposed legislation will undoubtedly face scrutiny and fierce debate within Russia and from the international community, particularly regarding its potential impact on freedom of expression and the ability of citizens to hold their government accountable. Advocates for freedom of speech and press freedom will closely monitor how this bill progresses and its potential repercussions for democracy and human rights in Russia.