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18 Dec, 2020 11:47

Smile, you’re in Russia! Politicians & officials to face fines for insulting citizens under Moscow’s new plans to ‘fight rudeness’

Smile, you’re in Russia! Politicians & officials to face fines for insulting citizens under Moscow’s new plans to ‘fight rudeness’

Russia is notorious for its grumpy, stern-faced bureaucrats, but now the national parliament has passed measures to punish politicians and officials at all levels for insulting, humiliating or damaging the reputation of citizens.

On Wednesday, deputies in the State Duma waved through the amendments, making authorities fully liable for what they say about everyone from celebrities to ordinary Russians. Authorities will mandate that a statement will be considered an “insult” if it “humiliates a person’s honor or dignity, is expressed indecently, or unethically.”

Falling foul of the new law will prove costly, with a bill of up to 100,000 rubles (close to $1,500) for besmirching people in their speeches, mass media, or on the internet. There are also fines for failing to take measures to prevent people from being insulted in these forums. Previously, politicians had been exempted from similar measures.

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On Thursday, speaking to journalists at his annual end-of-year press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin read out a petition from a citizen who was complaining of mistreatment at the hands of a “boorish” official. “In every family,” he said, “there is at least one freak,” while promising to deal with the situation.

In 2019, the head of press for the regional administration in the Siberian city of Irkutsk was suspended after falling foul of the first rule of public relations, becoming the story herself for making rude remarks about flooding victims. Irina Alashkevich made headlines after a recording was leaked in which she was said to have mocked the local residents who had been attending a meeting with local leaders. “You should see how they dress,” she exclaimed. “One came in heels, wearing black and white socks. She has this hat… like she has two classes of education.” She claimed that the recording was a fake.

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