Russia will consider a bill next week that would seize the assets of individuals convicted of spreading what the government terms "fakes" about the country's military, as announced by a top lawmaker on Saturday, Jan. 20.
Following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, criticism of the military became a criminal offence and thousands of opponents of the war in Russia have since been detained.
Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin revealed that the bill, reportedly enjoying support from major parliamentary factions, is set to be presented to Russia's lower house State Duma on Jan. 22.
"Anyone who tries to destroy and betray Russia should receive the punishment they deserve and compensate for the damage to the country with their property," Volodin wrote on Telegram.
The measure is designed to target those deemed as "scoundrels" who engage in activities that "pour mud on our country, soldiers, and officers serving in the special military operation," Volodin said.
Spreading "false information" about the army is already a charge carrying a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years in Russia. Authorities have utilized this charge to suppress many dissenting voices.
As per existing law, information regarding the Ukraine offensive not sourced from an official government outlet can be labeled as "false," leading to potential prosecution.
On Jan. 18, a Russian human rights activist, Grigoriy Winter, was sentenced to three years in jail for being found guilty of "discrediting" Moscow's army in a comment posted on social media.
Winter, 54, expressed outrage over Russia's alleged actions in the Ukrainian cities of Bucha and Irpin in a comment on the VKontakte social networking site.
"The human rights defender misled an unlimited number of people and discredited the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," a court from Winter's hometown of Cherepovets declared.
It said the activist "knowingly" spread false information about the army, despite knowing that "reliable information was posted on the website of the Ministry of Defense".
In addition to a three-year sentence in a penal colony, Winter was also banned from using social media and the internet for two years, the court said.
Before his arrest, Winter worked as head of a local branch of the Russian NGO "Za Prava Cheloveka" (For Human Rights) and as an animal rescuer, rights groups reported.
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