The generation that fought against the Nazis could receive new protections in Russia under proposals from a Moscow-based research institute, and amid an acrimonious court battle involving opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
In a letter to the country’s Interior Ministry, made available to RT on Monday, Anton Orlov, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Politics, called for a ban on publicly tarnishing the reputation of those who aided the war effort.
In it, the academic urged officials to “consider introducing a new article into the Russian Criminal Code for publicly insulting a known veteran of the Great Patriotic War [as WWII is known in Russia] or a worker on the home front.”
According to him, violating the new rule should carry a penalty of up to 100,000 rubles (around $1,360) or the equivalent of six months wages. Orlov added that judges should also have the option of sentencing those convicted under the law to “compulsory labor for up to 360 hours, or correctional labor for up to one year, or imprisonment for up to one year.”
In June last year, jailed anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny sparked outrage when he called 94-year old veteran, Ignat Artemenko, a “traitor” over his appearance in a video published by RT, encouraging the public to participate in a nationwide vote on proposed constitutional changes. “Oh, here they are, darlings. I must admit that the team of corrupt lackeys looks rather weak. Look at them: this is the shame of the country. People without a conscience. Traitors,” Navalny wrote. He is now facing a criminal trial for the comments, which prosecutors say amount to defamation.
When Navalny first made the comments, Ruslan Balbek, an MP from the ruling United Russia party, backed a similar law change to make insulting veterans explicitly illegal. “I understand that for the veteran these comments were a real shock, coming from, frankly, a thug and a political hack. It is disgusting and immoral to insult those who defeated Nazism 75 years ago,” he said.
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