On the initiative of the newly elected President Vladimir Putin, the Federation Council decided to reintroduce the law punishing libel. The new libel law does not provide for imprisonment, but allows for the imposition of huge monetary fines on legal entities and individuals and, if necessary, to involve the perpetrators in corrective labor.
For the dissemination of false information in which a person is accused of committing grave or especially grave crimes, a fine of up to 5 million rubles will be imposed. This is ten times higher than the previously applied sanctions.
Knowingly false information that offends the honor and dignity of a citizen or undermines his reputation will be punished with a fine of 500 thousand rubles. For public defamation contained in a speech, in the media or in a work sold, the fine will be much higher and amount to 1 million rubles. If the official position was used for libel, the fine will be 2 million rubles.
The maximum amount of the fine will be imposed for false information, which contains information about the presence of diseases that are dangerous to others and for accusations of a sexual offense. In this case, the amount of the fine will be from 3 to 5 million rubles.
Libel against a judge, prosecutor, juror, investigator, interrogator, bailiffs will be punished with a fine of up to 2 million rubles. During the preliminary investigation, false information sounded to the address of these persons is punishable by a fine of 1 million rubles. If the same acts are committed and officials are accused of committing grave or especially grave crimes, the amount of the fine will be 5 million rubles.
In the absence of an opportunity to pay a fine or in the absence of income or property at the expense of which the fine can be paid, the accused may be brought to correctional labor for up to 480 hours.
The main purpose of the newly adopted law is to make defamation a criminal offense rather than an administrative offense. During the discussion of the law, numerous controversies flared up. Opponents believed that without reforming the judicial system, the law would be used in the interests of officials and could be a pretext for repression.
Vladimir Pozner wrote on his website that in the conditions of today's Russia, the new article can be used against the political opposition. For example, if Mr. Navalny directly declares that United Russia is a party of crooks and thieves, he may be brought to justice, since he will not be able to prove it in the near future.