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19 Dec, 2023 08:33

‘Russophobia’ could be criminalized – Interfax

A new bill targets ‘extremism’ and ‘discrimination’ by international officials, following a rise in anti-Russian sentiment
‘Russophobia’ could be criminalized – Interfax

The Russian government has backed draft legislation that would introduce harsher penalties for actions and statements directed against Russians, Interfax has reported, citing sources.

The measures would primarily apply to violations of the rights of Russian nationals abroad. The planned amendments regarding ‘Russophobia’ would criminalize discrimination against Russians and public calls for extremism by international officials or public organizations.

The bill was authored by Irina Yarovaya, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, who previously suggested that Russophobia should be defined as a “misanthropic ideology.”

According to an explanatory note, amendments are also needed to protect military graves, monuments, and other memorials from attempts to damage or destroy them. Monuments honoring Soviet troops for their role in defeating the Nazis in World War II have in recent years been torn down or slated for demolition in parts of Eastern and Central Europe, including Ukraine.

In February, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow published a list of anti-Russian statements made by Western officials, claiming the comments demonstrated an unprecedented level of Russophobia. The dossier included remarks by the leaders of Baltic countries, some of whom had made efforts to eliminate the Russian language from social and economic life even before the Ukraine conflict.

In Latvia, the situation was exacerbated in 2022 when then-President Egils Levits insisted that Russians who are not loyal to the government in Riga should be “isolated from society.”

Moscow has repeatedly accused Latvia of “systemic discrimination” and a failure to meet its international obligations. In November, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that [Russophobia] has practically become the official ideology of the Western ruling elites.”

According to the Russian leader, the West views the country as “a prison of nations, and the Russians themselves are a people of slaves.” Putin further accused the West of aiming to “dismember and plunder Russia’s vast resources,” adding that “any interference from outside, provocations aimed at causing inter-ethnic or inter-religious conflicts, will be viewed as aggressive acts against Russia.”