MOSCOW -- The lower house of Russia’s parliament has adopted legislation that would introduce sentences of up to five years in prison for insulting World War II veterans.
The proposed amendments to the Criminal and Administrative Codes, which were passed in the State Duma on March 17, also envisage fines of up to 5 million rubles ($68,000) for entities or individuals convicted of the "public dissemination of knowingly false information" about WWII veterans.
The chamber said that publicly humiliating the dignity or honor of veterans would be "equated with the rehabilitation of Nazism," which would also carry a punishment of up to five years in prison.
The proposed legislation needs to be approved by the upper house, the Federation Council, and signed by President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law.
"It is unacceptable to insult those who defended the motherland," State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said in a statement, adding: "It is our duty to protect the memory of our grandfathers and great grandfathers, thanks to whom we are alive today."
The changes were proposed after a Russian judge last month fined jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny 850,000 rubles ($11,500) for slandering a 94-year-old WWII veteran who had participated in a Kremlin-organized promotional video.
Navalny mocked the people in the clip, calling them "corrupt lackeys and traitors." His allies called the trial a politically motivated sham, while Navalny accused Russian officials of "fabricating" the case against him.