A bill outlining criminal liability for creating pro-suicide
groups in social networks has passed its third and final reading on
Friday, Russian news outlets reported. The lawmakers unanimously
voted for the legislative initiative put forward by Irina Yarovaya,
an ultraconservative lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party.
Russian officials have been calling for a law against pro-suicide
online groups since May last year, when the Novaya Gazeta newspaper
reported that roughly 130 teenagers with membership in certain social
network groups have committed suicide. The group owners
systematically “worked” with the victims in order to convince
them to commit suicide, the report’s authors claimed.
The article was widely criticized for exaggerating the problem,
yet a founder of one such group, Fillip Budeikin, was arrested in November for pushing a 16-year-old girl into committing suicide.
Budeikin pled guilty and is currently in pre-trial detention.
Yarovaya’s bill introduced three new articles to Russia’s Criminal
Code outlining punishment for inciting to commit suicide or assisting
in committing suicide (up to four years in prison) and for engaging
minors in activities that threaten their lives (up to three years in
Human rights activists fear that the new law will be used to
further crackdown on Internet freedom in Russia.