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Russian upper house approves bill to confiscate assets of those convicted of discrediting the army

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MOSCOW (AP) — After a brief discussion, the upper house of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday endorsed a bill that would allow authorities to confiscate money, valuables and other assets from people convicted of spreading “deliberately false information” about the country’s military.

The bill, which was approved equally quickly by the lower house last week, is expected to receive Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signature and become law soon.

The lower house speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, has said the measure would strengthen the punishment for the “traitors who sling mud at our country and our troops” and “strip those scoundrels of honorary titles, confiscate their assets, money and other valuables.”

Russian officials have used the existing law against “discrediting” the military that covers offenses such as “justifying terrorism” and spreading “fake news” about the armed forces to silence Putin’s critics. Multiple activists, bloggers and ordinary Russians have received long prison terms.

The new confiscation law would apply to people who are convicted of publicly inciting “extremist activities” and calling for actions that would hurt the security of the state or “discrediting” the armed forces. Discrediting the Russian military became a criminal offense under a law adopted as part of a sweeping government crackdown on dissent after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

The bill does not include real estate among the assets subject to seizure. Draconian Soviet-era legislation authorized the seizure of housing for a variety of criminal offenses.

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