Communists seek tougher legal protection for state symbols of past & present

© Alexander Vilf
The Communist Party has prepared a bill introducing fines for unsanctioned use or distortion of the Russian state flag and coat of arms, as well as state symbols used during the Soviet era.

According to the Thursday report by Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper the bill will be drafted to the lower house during the present autumn session. If passed, the new act would introduce fines between 10,000 and 20,000 rubles (about $150-$300) for those who use Russian state symbols without a license. According to the same draft, the distortion or insulting of state symbols that “targets the Russian statehood” could cost offenders five years behind bars.

The head of the Communist Party legal service, MP Vadym Solovyov, said in press comments that it was especially important to regulate the commercial use of state symbols because now it was often possible to find mocking images and mentions on various products.

The bill proposes the formation of a special commission within the Justice Ministry that would approve any design with use of state symbols and issue a license without which the commercial production of such goods would be impossible.

The communists also suggest that the bill covers not only the current state symbols of the Russian state, but also the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union, which are still used by many Russian companies in the hope of luring nostalgic customers.

Another leftist parliamentary party, Fair Russia, strongly opposed the Communists’ initiative. They noted it was strange to limit the past symbols of the Russian state that fall under protection of the new bill to those used during the Soviet period. They also said it was wrong to impose any limitations on the expression of patriotic feelings.

READ MORE: Most Russians oppose ban on Soviet symbols - poll

In early August, the state-owned polling agency Vtsiom released the results of research conducted earlier this year, according to which 73 percent of respondents claimed to have a positive attitude towards the Soviet hammer and sickle, and 66 percent said they liked the red star. Only 11 percent said they have a negative attitude to these symbols.

Seventy-two percent of respondents categorically objected to the possible ban on the hammer and sickle, while 68 appeared to be against a ban on the red star. Seven percent said they would support such a ban if it were implemented.

The poll was conducted in connection with the controversial Ukrainian law passed in April this year. The act bans the communist and national-socialist totalitarian ideologies and all their symbols.