(Reuters) – The Russian government has backed a legislative amendment that classifies cards that contradict the country’s official “territorial integrity” as extremist material, the state-run Tass news agency reported on Sunday.
The agency said that an amendment to Russia’s anti-extremism law stipulates that “documents, map images and other images that contradict Russia’s territorial integrity” will be classified as extremist materials.
Russia’s vague anti-extremism legislation — it applies to religious organizations, journalists and their materials, and corporate activism, among other things — has allowed the Kremlin to tighten its grip on dissent.
The new amendment appeared, according to what was reported by the “TASS” agency, without citing sources, after its authors indicated that some maps distributed in Russia dispute the “territorial affiliation” of Crimea and the Kuril Islands.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014 – a move that Ukraine and many countries have rejected as illegal. Since then, Ukrainians and their government have often objected to world maps showing Crimea as part of Russian territory.
Russia and Japan never formally ended hostilities during World War II due to their confrontation over a group of islands off Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. These islands, known in Russia as the Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories, were captured by the Soviet Union at the end of the war.
The amendment must be proposed to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament and, after revision, go through three readings. Then it is sent to the Federation Council, the Senate and President Vladimir Putin for signature.
Separately, Russian politicians began discussing punishing Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine and who, as former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev put it, “want their homeland to die.”
Medvedev, one of Putin’s staunchest allies, said that “in times of war” there are special rules for dealing with traitors.
“There have always been such special rules in wartime,” Medvedev said on messaging app Telegram. “And secret groups of careful people who enforce the rules effectively.”
Medvedev’s rhetoric has grown increasingly acerbic since the start of the war in Ukraine, though his published views sometimes coincide with the thinking of the upper echelons of the Kremlin elite.
(cover) by Ron Bobisky and Lydia Kelly; Written by Lydia Kelly. Editing by Paul Simao
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