23 September 2021. Rossiiskaya Gazeta
Written by Ivan Petrov
Translated by Elizaveta Ovchinnikova
The Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) supported a bill introduced on 22 September in the wake of a shooting staged at Perm State University by one of the students. This was reported to Rossiyskaya Gazeta by the official representative of the ICR Svetlana Petrenko.
The document was developed and submitted by the State Council of Tatarstan. ‘It is obvious that the need to introduce criminal liability for propaganda of attacks on educational institutions on the Internet has existed for a long time, and the tragic events in Perm have reminded us of this once again,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately, there is a problem – you can see materials on the web that heroising such criminals. The changes proposed by representatives of Tatarstan’s authorities are an important step. They will allow the criminality of actions that directly affect teenagers to be fixed at the legislative level.’
After all, until now, according to the ICR representative, the organisers of posting videos on the Internet that actually encourage minors to commit criminal acts do not bear serious responsibility. ‘The new article of the Criminal Code, the disposition of which will clearly qualify the actions of persons publicly posting information inciting violence in educational institutions, will reduce the amount of dangerous content. Thus, they will play the role of a preventive tool,’ concluded Svetlana Petrenko.
It should be reminded that, earlier, the State Council of Tatarstan had introduced a bill to the State Duma, which introduced criminal liability for online propaganda of violence, attacks on educational institutions and causing harm to one’s own health.
According to the explanatory note, currently Russian legislation does not provide for criminal liability for posting materials on the Internet that promote an armed attack by a student or other individuals on students inside an educational institution ‘in the absence of an incitement to commit terrorist acts.’ At the moment, there is no liability for the description and justification of such acts as self-injury committed without suicidal intentions.
The Supreme Court of Russia has previously recognised that this issue ‘deserved discussion’ but pointed out that the definition of information having a destructive effect given in the draft law did not allow distinguishing it from other information posted on the Internet.
The Government of the Russian Federation has not supported this bill at all. The review says that the actions indicated in the document (propaganda of an armed attack on schoolchildren, incitements for self-harm) can be qualified under a number of already existing articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Including the involvement of a minor in the commission of a crime, mass riots, public calls inciting extremist activities and others.
A similar opinion is shared by President of the International Police Association Russian Section, Police Lieutenant General Yury Zhdanov. In an interview with the ‘RG’ reporter, he has also recalled that liability for incitement to commit crimes is already provided for by the Criminal Code.
'The extent of penalties depends on corpus delicti. That is, the severity of liability is already linked to the offence. There is no point in additional regulation. The problem lies not in the law but in the possibility of proving incitement and identifying the perpetrators when incitement is carried out via the Internet,’ he explained.
‘The described actions can also be qualified as propaganda of extremism or terrorism. Now this initiative looks more like a response to the tragedy rather than the solution to this problem. It is impossible to adopt a new law after every high-profile crime.’