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Russian Lawmakers Consider Making It A Crime To Observe Foreign Sanctions

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said that he backs the idea of making it a criminal offense to observe U.S. sanctions.

Draft legislation in the Russian parliament calls for the jailing of any person or representative of an organization in the country who goes along with sanctions imposed by foreign entities, Russian news agencies report.

The reports on May 11 said Russian lawmakers are seeking to make it a criminal offense punishable by up to four years in jail or by a fine of $9,300 to observe foreign sanctions or to aid other countries by providing information leading to sanctions.

The State Duma, the lower house of parliament -- dominated by the United Russia party that backs President Vladimir Putin -- is expected to debate the measure on May 14 or 15, although the date could change.

If it passes, the upper house, the Federation Council, would likely consider the bill on May 30, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

On April 6., the United States imposed new sanctions to fight what the U.S. Treasury called Russia's "malign" activities around the world and its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

The United States and the European Union had previously imposed other sanctions and diplomatic restrictions against Russia related to the election and to its aggression against Ukraine.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in April that he backed the idea of making it a criminal offense to observe U.S. sanctions and said the government should support Russian companies hit by sanctions to protect related jobs.

It is not clear if the bill, in its current form, has enough support, as some people have expressed concerns that the action could provoke Washington or others to enact further sanctions against Russia.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, TASS, and Bloomberg