From Vedomosti, Jan. 31, 2024, Complete text:

The State Duma has unanimously adopted the “Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code Concerning Liability for Crimes Against the Security Interests of the Russian Federation.” It provides for confiscating property and stripping [those guilty] of honorary titles for a number of crimes. Such crimes include [spreading] fake news about the Army [“intentional dissemination of misinformation about the use of the Russian Armed Forces” – Trans.] (Art. 207.3), rehabilitation of Nazism (Art. 354.1), [and public] calls for activities against state security (Art. 280.4) conducted for personal gain. There are 24 such articles, including Art. 284.1 (conduct of activity by a [foreign or international nongovernmental] organization considered undesirable [on Russian territory]), Art. 338 (desertion [from the Army]) and Art. 359 (mercenarism). The amendments are being made to Art. 1, Part 1 of the Criminal Code.

Confiscation is not a form of punishment, but a measure under criminal law, recalled Irina Pankina (United Russia), first deputy head of the [State Duma] committee on legislation and state-building. “It would seem that this is a minor nuance, but it is one of fundamental importance, distinguishing Soviet-style confiscation, when anything could be seized, from the present [version of] confiscation, whereby only tools of the crime and all ill-gotten gains are subject to seizure – money, [other] valuables, assets and all of the above used to finance criminal activity. And that must be proved,” she said. Thus, according to Pankina, not just any property will be confiscated, but only [the property] that is directly linked to a crime.

“In favor: 377 [votes out of 450 – Ed.]; none against and no abstentions. The federal law has been passed unanimously,” said lower house speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, announcing the results of the deputies’ vote on the bill on third [and final] reading. Now the document will be submitted to the Federation Council and then to the president to be signed into law.

Five amendments were submitted for second reading, three of which the State Duma legislation and state-building committee recommended for approval and two (proposed by Noviye Lyudi [New People] deputies) of which it recommended for rejection, said Irina Pankina. The deputy added that the first three amendments clarify the mechanism for the confiscation of property intended to finance crimes against Russia’s national security. The amendments do not provide for the seizure of just any property belonging to a criminal (as additional punishment), the bill’s sponsors stressed: This is about the forcible seizure of property acquired in a criminal way or used for the perpetration of a crime.

As for the possible application of the law, in a conversation with Vedomosti, lawyer Sergei Badamshin said that in its verdict, a court should specify confiscation as a measure under criminal law. Therefore, the prosecution should prove that the money, valuables and other assets were acquired as a result of a crime codified in statutes listed in Art. 104.1 of the Criminal Code, or that this property was used to finance crimes under Art. 208.4 of the Criminal Code.

“In its verdict, a court should establish specifically what property is subject to confiscation and why (for example, what sum of money was received in connection with or as a result of the perpetration of a crime, or was acquired in a criminal way, etc.),” explained Vadim Klyuvgant, a partner at the Pen & Paper law firm. At the same time, there is a list of assets that are not subject to seizure (for instance, a sole housing property [or] a basic set of furniture), the lawyer recalled.

Pankina believes that a full-blown information war has been declared against Russia, with money or other personal gains serving as incentives for the perpetration of crimes such as extremism, [and] public calls for violation of the country’s territorial integrity. “These amendments [to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code – Trans.] serve, among other things, as a deterrence mechanism. There should be a clear understanding that all ill-gotten gains will be seized and converted into state property,” she said.

Volodin told the plenary session that this bill targets “scoundrels and traitors who today spit on the backs of our soldiers, who have betrayed our Motherland, who transfer money to the armed forces of a country that is at war with us.”