Russian lawmakers approved a bill on Wednesday allowing authorities to confiscate the money, property and valuables of anyone convicted of spreading criticism of the Russian army.

Moscow made disparagement of its military illegal shortly after launching its assault on Ukraine in February 2022, and has detained thousands of the conflict's opponents since.

The latest measure, passed by the lower house State Duma in its first reading, further cracks down on dissent and could affect Russians who have fled the country.

The charge of spreading "false information" about the army already carried a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia's lower house State Duma, told lawmakers Wednesday that this punishment was "not enough" to deter the army's critics.

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"They live comfortably, renting out property, continuing to receive royalties at the expense of Russian citizens. They use these funds to support the Nazi regime," Volodin said.

"The decision adopted should stop those who commit crimes against the security of our country, who consider it possible to insult our citizens, soldiers and officers, and who support the Nazis," he said.

Under current laws, information about the offensive in Ukraine that does not come from an official government source can be deemed "false" and its dissemination liable to prosecution.

Russian hardline officials had for months been issuing calls to toughen the law, denouncing those who criticise the Kremlin's military assault as "traitors".

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The Chinese defense ministry said in a statement on Sunday that this operation is "not targeted at any third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation."

"We are showing good will that we are doing this only two years in," said Andrei Lugovoy, a deputy from Russia's right-wing LDPR party.

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