Russian President Vladimir Putin has today signed a new law against the spread of false news about participants in military operations in Ukraine, punishing this offense with up to 15 years in prison.

The law toughens the punishment for discrediting the deployment of the Russian armed forces abroad, previously up to five years in jail. The changes make it illegal to defame volunteers and increase the maximum sentence for doing so from three to seven years.

The penalties for spreading disinformation about the Russian armed forces have been expanded to include civilian volunteers after certain revisions were made to the original text on the subject. The provision specifies a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.

Putin also signed a law that allows for fines of up to one million rubles to be imposed against individuals who publicly discredit the assistance provided by volunteers to the Russian military in the performance of their duties or who disseminate instructions on the illegal manufacture of firearms ammunition through the media or the Internet.

Dissemination in the media and on the Internet of information about the illicit manufacture of ammunition for firearms is punishable by a fine of 10,000-50,000 rubles and confiscation of the object of the offense.

Officials face a higher fine of between 40,000 and 80,000 rubles, while individual entrepreneurs are fined between 50,000 and 100,000 if they commit this offense.

Legal persons will have to pay a fine of 800,000 to 1 million rubles if they are found to be in violation. Individual entrepreneurs and legal entities may also be punished with the administrative suspension of business activity for a maximum of 90 days.

In the meanwhile, the law creates administrative accountability for public activities aimed at discrediting the aid provided by volunteer formations, organizations, or individuals to the Russian armed forces.

Putin has also signed a federal law on reducing the statute of limitations for various articles related to the economy and the termination of criminal proceedings if fines and arrears in cases of tax evasion are paid.

For articles related to tax evasion, breach of the obligations of a tax agent, concealment of monetary resources or assets of an organization or an individual entrepreneur, and evasion of payment of insurance premiums, the maximum penalties will be reduced. In 1-2 years in prison, “which will reduce the statute of limitations for criminal liability,” the document states.

Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in the US claimed that US support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin is “reminiscent of lazy schizophrenia.”

On Friday, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for allegedly “illegal deportation” of Ukrainian children to Russia. US President Joe Biden said Friday that the arrest warrant is “justified.”

“By allowing unacceptable comments about the Russian leader, the US authorities are deliberately silent about their own atrocities in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya, and Vietnam. Furthermore, in an attempt to protect their citizens from international persecution by all available means, the United States adopts even hateful measures. 

Former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda initiated a probe into US atrocities in Afghanistan, and other top court officials were hit with unprecedented financial punishment. What kind of objectivity and freedom do we have here? A representative from the Russian embassy commented on the response from the United States.

Although neither the United States nor Russia accepts the ICC’s jurisdiction, the embassy emphasized that Washington supported the “extraordinary legal bacchanalia” unleashed by the court to safeguard its own geopolitical interests.

“A schizophrenic would assume such a position. Every US official has reiterated today that the ICC’s rulings do not apply to the USA. On the other hand, the strategic value of causing Russia as much annoyance as possible, “as the Russian diplomatic mission reported.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, stated that the ICC warrants to imprison Putin and Lvova-Belova are null and void since Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute and is not obligated to comply with the ICC.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, has said on multiple occasions that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no authority over Russia because Moscow does not accept the court’s jurisdiction.

CNN