MOSCOW (AP) – The lower house of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow authorities to confiscate money, valuables and other assets from people convicted of spreading “deliberately false information” about the country’s military.
After its swift passage in the State Duma, the bill is now expected to quickly sail through the upper house of parliament and receive Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature.
Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the measure would strengthen the punishment for the “traitors who sling mud at our country and our troops” and “strip those scoundrels of honorary titles, confiscate their assets, money and other valuables.”
The new law would apply to people who are convicted of publicly inciting “extremist activities,” calling for actions that would hurt the security of the state or “discrediting” the armed forces. Discrediting the Russian military became a criminal offense under a law adopted as part of a sweeping government crackdown on dissent after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
“Everyone who tries to destroy Russia, who betrays it, must suffer the deserved punishment and pay compensation for the damage inflicted on the country, at the cost of their property,” Volodin said before Wednesday’s vote.
The proposed law does not appear to include real estate among the assets subject to seizure, unlike the draconian Soviet-era legislation that authorized the seizure of housing.
“We don’t want to revive the Soviet-style confiscation. We don’t need that,” Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the Duma legal affairs committee, told reporters.
Russian officials have used the existing law against “discrediting” the military, which covers offenses such as “justifying terrorism” and spreading “fake news” about the armed forces, to silence Putin’s critics. Multiple activists, bloggers and ordinary Russians have received long prison terms.