The Russian State Duma passed a bill on Wednesday in its first reading that would make slander a criminal count again and tighten liability for this offense.
The bill was passed in its first reading exclusively due to the United Russia faction's votes. The three other factions - Communists, A Just Russia and the Liberal-Democratic Party voted against it.
The bill was approved in a 242 to 144 vote with two abstentions.
Liberal Democratic Party faction leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said the "bill would allow any government official to start a criminal case against any citizen, but would not give citizens the chance to sue officials."
The bill was proposed by seven members of the United Russia party faction, among them Pavel Krasheninnikov, Irina Yarovaya and Alexander Khinshtein.
Liability for slander would be tightened manifold. The fines due for this offense would be increased from the current 1,000-300,000 rubles to at least 200,000 and even to the offender's annual earnings.
The upper limit is a fine of 300,000 to 500,000 rubles, or even the offender's earnings for three years, or five years in jail.
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