Publication: Russia and Eurasia Review Volume: 1 Issue: 6

By Mikhail Zherebyatev

Under cover of a law passed in June, the Russian state will bring all its might to bear in a war against extremism. Collateral damage may be heavy. Political parties should largely escape unscathed, but the fate of religious denominations is much less certain.

The “Law on Combating Extremist Activity” moved through parliament with little debate. Less than a month passed between the bill’s first and second readings [the period during which amendments may be introduced]. Although, in the end, the Communist and some of the liberal Yabloko deputies voted against the bill, Russia’s political elite is unanimous on the need for tighter state control over unconstitutional political, racist or religious behavior.

As enacted, most of the law tracks the draft that came over from the Kremlin fairly closely. It provides an extensive list of the features of extremism: