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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Criminal liability for insulting the national anthem will restore justice


The Supreme court upheld the bill providing criminal punishment for insulting the national anthem. Traditionally, the liberals fear that it will lead to “crackdown”, but is it really? Analysis of the situation shows that this is not about “suppression of freedom of speech”, and the restoration of justice.

In the opinion of the Supreme court on the bill (its sponsors are senators Vadim of Tulips and Andrey Klishas, as well as state Duma Deputy rasied Nath) States that the judge proceeded on the basis of the principle of equality of status of state symbols: the article 70 of the Constitution gives the coat of arms, flag and anthem of Russia the same status, however, criminal penalties of up to one year of imprisonment, is currently facing only for insulting the coat of arms and flag. The national anthem is protected from abuse only by article 17.10 of the Administrative code, which provides for a fine.

“If on a t-shirt painted coat of arms or flag, it is not an insult. But if this t-shirt to wash the floor?”

We will remind that with the initiative to toughen punishment for insulting the national anthem the Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on rules Vadim Tulpanov made after the Congress of the Council under the Governor of Sevastopol was launched a parody version of the main song of the country, which included swearing.

That after the conclusion of the Supreme court bill is passed, no doubt, and therefore, the introduction of criminal liability for insulting the national anthem can be regarded as a fait accompli. Indeed, it is not clear what guided the legislators, when included in the corresponding article of the criminal code only the visual symbols of the state. Perhaps those that define “bullying” in this case is more complicated.

Tulip has promised that over the fake singing and ignorance of the text, no one to prosecute will not. In the case of the Sevastopol incident, it is obvious that we are talking about the insult and abuse. And that’s where lies the border – remains an open question.

We should not forget that the Russian anthem sung in the same melody that the anthem of the USSR. If someone will do his parody version, would it be an insult to the Russian anthem? And if you sing a reggae version of the anthem performed by the band “Thursday”? And if the motive to put the text of the hymn of Russia? But if some third text?

In any case, the work of prosecutors and experts, after the adoption of the bill will be added. However, in the case of already protected by UK flag and emblem too, there may be issues where legitimate use ends and insult begins. If on a t-shirt painted coat of arms or flag is not an insult. But if this t-shirt to wash the floor? And if you wear shorts in the colors of the flag? If the emblem on the shorts front? But if the back?

Judging by the fact that high-profile trials on this subject have not yet been, law enforcement agencies cope with the problem or don’t notice its presence, as, indeed, most ordinary citizens. Hence, the emergence in the UK list of protected objects of the hymn is unlikely to lead to a “mass landing” that scare the citizens of some liberals.

World experience in this matter looks in different ways. In Kazakhstan, the desecration of all the state symbols in accordance with the criminal code punishable by “a fine up to two thousand monthly calculation indices, or correctional labor in the same size, or restraint of liberty for a term up to two years, or imprisonment for the same term”. In this country the biggest scandal of the national anthem happened four years ago, when in Kuwait during the awarding of the athlete from Kazakhstan instead of the original hymn included a parody song from the movie “Borat”.

In China, for insulting the state symbols of the criminal code provides punishment till three years of imprisonment. In 2013 in Hong Kong, the activist received nine months in prison for the burning of the flag.

In Germany and Austria harsher the punishment for desecration of state symbols and symbols of the Federal land you can get up to three and a half years in prison. In Italy it is the administrative offense, which relies fine of up to 5,000 euros. In Hungary, the penalty for the burning of not only his, but foreign flags. In Japan, a private flag can be burned with impunity, but other people cannot. In South Korea, the situation is reversed for other people’s flags of punishment is not provided, and for the insult of its own symbolism – up to two years of imprisonment

In the United States with the flag and other state symbols can do whatever they please thanks to the first amendment to the Constitution. By the way, for the same reason the Americans refused to impose sanctions against Director General MIA “Russia today” Dmitry Kiselev, as strongly suggested them Mikhail Kasyanov. At the same time during the Vietnam war, when the demonstrative burning of the flag was among the pacifists good form, was adopted a special law “On the protection of the flag” providing for imprisonment up to one year. But in 1989 the Supreme court declared it unconstitutional. In Britain also does not provide punishment for insulting national symbols.

But in most countries the desecration of state symbols is either a criminal offence or administrative violation. As with any tightening of legislation, the introduction of criminal liability for insulting the national anthem will inevitably lead to comments about “tightening the screws”. But in reality, the situation essentially will not change and will differ little from existing practices in Europe.

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