(Reuters) – Russian lawmakers submitted a draft bill to the lower house of parliament, or the Duma, that envisages a prison term of up to 10 years and fines for adhering to Western sanctions in Russia, Interfax state news agency reported on Monday.
The bill, if passed, would mark further tightening of Russian laws after Moscow launched what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24, prompting an unprecedented wave of Western economic sanctions in response.
The new bill, which needs to be approved by the parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law, aims to prevent a deterioration of Russia’s economic situation, Interfax quoted lawmaker, Pavel Krasheninnikov, as saying.
A number of Russian companies, including firms partially owned by the state, are refusing to work with sanctioned banks and companies because they fear they could land on the sanctions list as well, Krasheninnikov said, according to Interfax.
“If someone in the Russian Federation decides to limit the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation, its legal entities, institutions or organisations, then they need to bear criminal responsibility,” Interfax quoted Krasheninnikov as saying.
In early March, Russian lawmakers passed amendments to the criminal code that made the spread of “fake” information an offence punishable by fines or jail terms. They had also imposed fines for public calls for sanctions against Russia.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)