Russia's State Duma introduces concepts of mobilisation and wartime in Criminal Code


The Russian State Duma has introduced the concepts of mobilisation and wartime in the Criminal Code, and it has also approved amendments on responsibility for desertion during mobilisation or wartime.

Source: Holod magazine; Kremlin-aligned news agency RIA Novosti; State Duma website 

Details: New articles were included in the draft law on amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, adopted in the first reading in July, namely: "Voluntary surrender" (Art. 352.1) and "Looting" (Art. 356.1).

The new amendments stipulate that when it comes to crimes against military service, it will be considered an aggravating circumstance if they are committed not only in conditions of armed conflict or hostilities, but also "during mobilisation or martial law, during wartime".

State Duma has strengthened criminal responsibility for:

  • disobeying a military order,

  • insubordination,

  • unauthorised leaving of the place of service, desertion,

  • evasion of duty,

  • violation of military service rules,

  • loss of military property

(if these are committed "during martial law, in wartime or in conditions of armed conflict or hostilities").

Additionally, the State Duma has introduced criminal liability for voluntary surrender (from 3 to 10 years) and for looting (up to 15 years).

In particular, if a serviceman leaves his unit during the wartime and is absent for up to 10 days, he will face up to 5 years in prison; if he leaves his unit for a month, he will then face 7 years in prison, and if he’s been absent there more than a month, he gets 10 years behind the bars.

The amendments emphasise that Russians reservists called up for military training will be criminally liable for non-admittance or desertion, i.e. they will be treated the same way as contract soldiers and conscripts.

The amendments also provide for up to 3 years of imprisonment in a penal colony for a refusal to participate in combat operations; the period increases up to 10 years if such a refusal entailed any grave consequences.

(Previously, the Russian military law stated that a failure to comply with an order was punished with 2 years in jail; and if it entailed any grave consequences, the period would increase up to 5 years; there was no separate punishment for refusal to participate in hostilities - ed.).

The destruction of military property caused by mishandling during the wartime is punished with up to 5 years in prison.

Additionally, members of the Russian Parliament introduced criminal liability for repeated violation of the terms under the state defence order; that totals 4 to 8 years of imprisonment. The sentence duration increases to 5 to 10 years if the order was not fulfilled, or any damage was dealt that amounted to over 5 million rubles [approximately US$82,640].

In addition, criminal liability was introduced for those who repeatedly refused to fulfil a contract under a state defence order (from 4 to 8 years).

RIA Novosti reports that the Federation Council [of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation] may adopt a package of amendments to the Criminal Code on 21 September.

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