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New Bill Would Jail Russians For Adhering To Western Sanctions

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has voiced support for the idea of making adherence to U.S. sanctions a criminal offense. (file photo)

Russians who adhere to economic sanctions imposed by the United States could be imprisoned for four years under legislation due to be considered in parliament.

The bill, co-sponsored by leaders of all four parties in the legislature, was submitted to the State Duma lower house on May 14.

It is part of an effort to retaliate after the United States imposed asset freezes and financial restrictions on Russian officials, tycoons, and companies seen as close to President Vladimir Putin on April 6.

Those sanctions, the latest in a series imposed by the United States, European Union, and other countries since Russia seized Crimea and backed armed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014, were meant to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other "malign activity around the globe."

The legislation, which faces three votes in the Duma and one in the upper house before it goes to Putin for his signature, would enable a court to impose a prison term of up to four years on any individual or representative of a legal entity in Russia who refuses to supply services or do business with a Russian citizen due to sanctions. Offenders could also be fined up to 600,000 rubles ($9,710).

Under the bill, helping foreign governments impose sanctions on Russia by providing advice or information would also be a criminal offense, punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 rubles ($8,090).

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has voiced support for the idea of making adherence to U.S. sanctions a criminal offense.

But lawmakers have watered down initial proposals for a raft of restrictions on the import of specific goods and services from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia -- including U.S. pharmaceutical and agricultural products, alcohol, and tobacco -- amid concerns that the measures could hurt Russian consumers and companies.

They also removed a proposal to restrict the employment of U.S. citizens in Russia.

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