Putin Reclassifies Battery as Misdemeanor
July 4, 2016
Russian President Vladimir has signed a law reclassifying battery, nonpayment of alimony, and petty theft as misdemeanors. The corresponding document has been posted on the Official Legal Information Portal.
According to the document, battery is excluded from the Russian Federal Criminal Code if it has not resulted in the consequences stipulated in Article 115 of the code (intentional infliction of bodily harm). In this case, the offense carries a fine of 5,000 to 30,000 rubles, a jail term of 10 to 15 days or compulsory community service of 60 to 120 hours.
Nonpayment of alimony, according to the law, will be punishable by compulsory community service for a period of up to 150 hours or a jail term of 10 to 15 days. Persons to whom these forms of punished cannot be applied will be fined 20,000 rubles.
The articles in the Criminal Codes stipulating liability for petty theft of property have also been transferred to the Administrative Offenses [Misdemeanors] Code. If the property stolen is worth less than 1,000 rubles, then it will be punishable by a fine of up to five times the value of the stolen goods, but not less than 1,000 rubles, a jail term of up to 15 days or compulsory community service of up to 50 hours.
If the property stolen is valued between 1,000 and 2,500 rubles, the theft is punishable by fine of no less than 3,000 rubles, a jail term of 10 to 15 days, or compulsory community service of up to 120 hours.
For more information on domestic violence in Russia and the background to the new law decriminalizing battery and other crimes read:
- Amelia Gentleman, “Breaking the taboo: the Moscow women taking a stand against domestic violence,” The Guardian, June 10, 2105
- “Decriminalizing Domestic Violence in Russia?” The Russian Reader, February 25, 2016
UPDATE. Here is an alternative viewpoint on the new law by Mari Davtyan, as published on her Facebook page earlier today. Thanks to Varya Mikhaylova for the heads-up.
July 5, 2016
Yesterday, the Russian president signed amendments to the Criminal Code. And yet, everyone, including certain media, are confused as to what happened.
The new law introduces a number of changes to the Russian Federal Criminal Code. As for Article 116 (battery), it has been preserved in the Criminal Code, but in a modified form. Now battery per se will not be punished under criminal law, as opposed to battery committed against intimates or motivated by hooliganism, hatred or enmity. Battery committed against strangers will be punished as a misdemeanor, but if it is repeated, then it will be punished as a criminal offense. It is a debatable law, but this is not the point now, but battery against relatives and loved ones.
The best thing that has happened is that battery committed against relatives has now been redefined as a matter of private-public prosecution rather than a private prosecution. Previously, it was extremely difficult to file battery charges due to the private prosecution system, which assigned the duty of investigating the crime and proving the guilt of the accused to the victims themselves. We have written many times that the procedure was so complex that most victims of domestic violence refused to go through it, and the perpetrators went unpunished.
Now that battery against relatives and loved ones has become a matter for private-public prosecution, victims need only to file charges (that is obligatory), but then the police will take over investigation of the crime, and subsequently, in court, the charges will be supported by the prosecutor, meaning a standard criminal trial will be the outcome. Another good point of the new law on battery is that it does not stipulate paying a fine as a form of punishment. A domestic tyrant will thus be unable to pay his way out of the problem using the family budget. (I have inserted the wording of the new law in the comments, below.)
Does the new law on battery mean that domestic violence will disappear tomorrow. No, it doesn’t. The article will encourage more effective punishment of perpetrators, but punishment is not the only thing. The issues of prevention, effective interagency cooperation, and protection and support of domestic violence victims have not be solved. All these things can be remedied only by a separate law against domestic violence.
But there is a little fly in the ointment in the shape of the following legislative nonsense: Russian Federal Criminal Code Article 115 (Intentional infliction of bodily harm), which is considered a more grievous crime than battery, but has remained a matter for private prosecution. Why? I don’t know. Search me.
So the battle continues.
Mari Devyant is a lawyer and member of a working group drafting a federal law on prevention of domestic violence.
Article 116: Battery
Battery or other violent acts, causing physical pain but not entailing the consequences stipulated in Article 115 of this Code, and committed against intimates or motivated by hooliganism, political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or enmity, or by hatred or enmity towards a social group, are punishable by compulsory community service of up to 360 hours, correctional labor of up to one year, restriction of freedom of up to two years, a jail term of up to six months, or imprisonment of up to two years.
NB. In this article, “intimates” refers to close relatives (spouses, parents, children adoptive parents, adopted children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren), foster parents and guardians, as well as persons related by marriage to the person who committed the act stipulated in this article, or persons sharing a household with the person.
Translated by the Russian Reader