Russia’s Criminal Code already prohibits desecration of the flag or the coat of arms. Unity, the Kremlin’s multiparty bloc in the legislature, introduced a bill last month to extend that protection to the national anthem, and to boost the maximum penalty to a year in prison. The bill easily passed its first reading in the Duma, with the Communists joining in support.
By jingo, thought right-wing deputy Boris Nadezhdin, we can have some fun with this. So Nadezhdin offered an amendment to define “desecration” of the anthem: listening while seated, or lying down, or standing on one’s head, or squatting, or squatting while dancing; or playing the anthem “at discotheques, parties, or drunken gatherings;” or replacing the words with doggerel; or playing off-key or with “inappropriate tempo or tonality.” And no more Putin jokes! Nadezhdin’s amendment also makes commission of “an outrage against the president” punishable by death.