MOSCOW -- Legislation that would decriminalize some forms of domestic violence has advanced easily in the Russian parliament despite vehement criticism from human rights and family protection groups.
The bill sailed through the second of three votes in the State Duma, Russia’s lower parliament house, with nearly unanimous support on January 25. The vote was 385-2, with one abstention.
Backers say the bill will prevent the state from meddling in the affairs of families, which President Vladimir Putin has placed at the heart of a pivot toward what he casts as traditional Russian values.
The legislation would reduce battery against a close relative from a criminal offense to an administrative misdemeanor.
Amnesty International has called it a "sickening attempt to trivialize domestic violence."
Opponents have urged lawmakers to reject the legislation and this week sought to hold a rally of protest in central Moscow but were denied permission by the city authorities.
The bill will go to Putin for signature if it passes one more vote in the Duma and one in the upper house.