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Russian bill to impose harsher punishments for attacks on journalists

Sentences to be extended for for endangering journalists' lives

A bill imposing harsher punishments for attacks on journalists was submitted in the Russia's lower house of parliament, Duma, on Friday.

Irina Yarova, Russian MP and the initiator of the amendments, said the existing penalties for attacks on journalists are inadequate.

The new bill is to bring in an amended version of the existing legislation and it proposes to change the second part of the Article 144 of the Criminal Code (obstruction of the professional journalists' activity) and to establish penalties for use of violence against journalists.

It proposes a sentence of 6-15 years for those who commit offences that endanger the lives of journalists. It also extends sentences for those who commit minor offences from two to five years.

The proposal was considered after the journalist Oleg Kashin was brutally attacked in early November. He was apparently targeted for his criticism of pro-government youth groups and a controversial road building project.

According to the International Press Institute, Russia ranks fifth in the list of countries most dangerous for journalists after Iraq, the Philippines, Colombia and Mexico.