Russia Tightens Criminal Code, Introduces Life Prison for Treason

Опубликовано: 28 Апрель 2023

Navalny Court LinkAlexei Navalny appeared before the court via video-link to face new charges. (Photo: Команда Навального/Team Navalny/Twitter, License)

Russia’s lawmakers further tightened the country’s Criminal Code, introducing even harsher punishments for the remaining Kremlin critics who have either not managed or not wanted to leave the country after it slid further into an autocracy following the invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Russian senators – members of the upper house, or the Federation Council of the Russian parliament, Duma, discussed on Wednesday more than 50 issues, and passed numerous amendments, including those to the Criminal Code, aimed at “strengthening responsibility for terrorism and crimes against the foundations of the country’s constitutional order.”

Treason, as the council approved, can now be punished with life imprisonment, instead of the current 20 years maximum. The punishment for a terrorist act was increased from 10 to 20 years in prison to 12 to life imprisonment.

Russians who dare to publicly discredit the Russian army and its “special operation” in Ukraine, may also be stripped of the country's citizenship, according to Russian independent human rights watchdog OVD-Info.

One of those who may soon face the latest amendments and life prison is the incarcerated Kremlin’s critic and opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. He appeared via video link before Moscow's Basmanny District Court the same day the amendments were passed.

“I’m facing 30 years under this case and life imprisonment under the next one,” Navalny announced on Twitter after being freshly charged with terrorism.

Russian authorities arrested Navalny in January 2021, following his return to Moscow from Berlin, where he was treated in a hospital after surviving a poisoning attack in Russia.

A month later, in February, Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court sentenced Navalny for violating the terms of his suspended sentence in the so-called Yves Rocher case, in which he was sentenced in 2014 to house arrest and his brother Oleg to prison for allegedly taking advantage of a Russian subsidiary of the French cosmetic company.

Since then, Russian authorities have opened up to ten additional criminal proceedings against him, including the latest charges of “extremism,” with a separate terrorism charge singled out, to be processed before a military court, OVD-Info reported.

Navalny is not the only target.

According to the Russian state news agency TASS, the same day Navalny appeared before the Basmanny District Court, the same court said that within the Navalny “extremism” case an inquiry was launched against 11 people, his associates, and that their names had been placed on an international warrant list.