State Duma deputies propose yet more legislative changes

27 July 2023: A brief explanation of the latest proposed changes to Russian extremism legislation


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A group of Russian State Duma deputies have proposed expanding current extremism legislation in order to address the problem of school shootings. The Russian Government has expressed general support for the proposals, but challenged some of the details.

Deputies from the ruling United Russia party, led by Vasiliy Piskarev, chair of the Duma’s security committee, proposed the changes on 18 July. The amendments concern Article 280 of the Criminal Code, which covers “public calls to carry out extremist activity” and currently carries penalties of between R300,000 and five years in prison.


The deputies want to expand the Article to also criminalise “public justification of extremism” or propaganda of extremism. Specifically, they want to punish any “public statement that accepts the ideology or practice of extremism as correct, [and] needing support and imitation.” Propaganda is understood as “activity to disseminate material and information intended to develop in a person an ideology of extremism, a conviction of its attractiveness, or an idea of the permissibility of carrying out extremist activity.” The authors claim the measures are necessary to combat school shootings and the way they are discussed online (1).


The measures, moreover, are intended to obstruct corrosive foreign influences. The deputies explicitly want to prevent “targeted activity, including with foreign participation, directed at corrupting our society, at the levelling [nivelirovaniye] of Russian cultural and historical values.”


According to business daily Kommersant, the Russian Government is generally supportive of the changes, but considers existing Articles of both the Criminal and Administrative Code sufficient to deal with some of the supposed activity. In its response to the proposals, it has cited potential clashes with those existing provisions and difficulties in limiting their application in practice. However, the newspaper also cited the claims of the proposals’ authors that all the concerns raised have already been addressed (1).


This would be just the latest of a regular parade of amendments to the Criminal Code for offences related to terrorism and extremism. Article 280 was, for example, among a number of Articles updated in July 2022, when a new clause was introduced addressing public calls for actions directed against state security. Supreme Court statistics, gathered by the SOVA Center, show that 255 were prosecuted under the article in 2021, up from 90 in 2018. The Interior Ministry reported 493 cases in 2022 for part 2 of the Article alone, an 8.4% increase on the previous year (2).

Other stories of interest
  • State Duma deputies have adopted legislation that permits Rosgvardia units, including the Chechen security services, to be equipped with tanks and artillery (3).
  • A court has sentenced a resident of Karachayevo-Cherkessia to 16 years in prison on charges of preparing a terrorist attack in the republic’s capital on behalf of the Islamic State (4).
  • The Belarusian Defence Ministry has reported that it has been carrying out joint training exercises near the border with Poland with Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner (5).
  • Wagner Telegram channels published a video featuring owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin and commander Dmitriy Utkin, in which Prigozhin promised to defend the Lukashenka regime in Belarus and Wagner’s return to combat in Africa and Ukraine. The video was Prigozhin’s first public appearance since the end of his mutiny in Russia (6).
  • The UK Government sanctioned eight individuals and five companies connected to Wagner activities in Mali, the Central African Republic, and Sudan (7).
  • Prosecutors have opened a criminal case against a resident of Kabardino-Balkaria who is suspected of providing R200,000 to a member of an unspecified terrorist group in Syria. The man has been placed on the international wanted list (8).
  • Kavkaz Realii has reported that Khuseyn Zakayev, the nephew of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria’s exiled leader Akhmed Zakayev, has been sent to Ukraine to fight with Chechen security service units. He was detained along with his brother in May (9).
Source list

1. Kommersant. 18 July 2023. Экстремизму конца-краю не видно.

2. SOVA Center. 20 May 2023. Inappropriate Enforcement of Anti-Extremist Legislation in Russia in 2022.

3. Caucasian Knot. 20 July 2023. Чеченские подразделения Росгвардии получили разрешение на тяжелую военную технику.

4. Caucasian Knot. 19 July 2023. Житель Карачаево-Черкесии приговорен к 16 годам колонии за подготовку теракта.

5. Meduza. 20 July 2023. Минобороны Беларуси сообщило о совместных учениях с ЧВК Вагнера вблизи границы с Польшей.

6. Nikita Kondratyev. Vazhnyye istorii. 19 July 2023. Пригожин и командир ЧВК «Вагнер» Дмитрий Уткин заявили о скором возвращении наемников к боевым действиям.

7. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. 20 July 2023. UK sanctions Wagner Group leaders and front companies responsible for violence and instability across Africa.

8. Caucasian Knot. 21 July 2023. Житель Нальчика заподозрен в финансировании терроризма.

9. Kavkaz Realii. 25 July 2023. В Чечне племянник Закаева отправлен на войну. Ранее его задержали кадыровцы.

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