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Million rouble fine for traders in Nazi symbols.

Yesterday the Russian government added to the law Codex referring to the offences of illegal manufacturing, selling and purchase with a view to resell Nazi symbols. Additionally vandalism accomplished on motives of racial, political or religious hatred or enmity was added as a criminal offence. Lawyers and politicians consider that these cosmetic changes arent bad. But there is nothing remarkable in them: these measures approved by the government will hardly help to win the battle against xenophobia and extremism Russia.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Justice the penalty for manufacturing and selling nazi symbols is set on a sliding variable scale, for citizens, officials and workers in the judiciary.

In all three cases the subject of offence needs to be confiscated is stipulated. In the Russian Law Codex there is an additional classification of vandalism as crimes, carried out by groups of persons on motives of ideological, political, national, racial, religious hatred or enmity , the term of punishment for this crime is up to three years of imprisonment. Currently the Russian Law Codex classifies vandalism as defilement of buildings damage of property on public transport or in other public places . The maximal sentence for this offence - about three months in prison. For 2004 under the clause about vandalism more than one and a half thousand cases with the result of more than 500 being sentenced. However, according to the Supreme Court, only 148 people have been found guilty of this and only one sentenced to imprisonment.

In the last few weeks in Russia there have been some very high profile racist crimes. At the beginning of april in Moscow,a journalist from NTV Elkhan Mirzoiev was brutally beaten and also the Culture Minister of Karbardino Balkaria Zaoor Tutov. And in St Petersburg, Lamzar Samba, a student from Senegal was murdered. Near the crime scene was found a sgun with a scratched swastika. This Wednesday in Nizhnii Novgorod a student fom Malaysia was seriously wounded after a racist attack.Last week the general director of the internet portal KavkazWeb.net and financial analyst from New York, born in Karbardino-Balkaria Osman Mazukabzov called on the Russian parliament to pass a law equating facsim to terrorism.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Justice prefer to limit amendments to the current legislation to the cosmetic. According to Eugeny Sidorenko, the chief of the department of constitutional legislation and legislation on safety from the Ministry of Justice, this department alongside with the Ministry of Internal Affairs is coauthor of the bill. There is some updating of the criminal legislation from the point of view of perfection and charging of criminals. This bill does not bring any dramatic changes an official stated. As he said, speech does not change the procedures of the control and registration of organizations.

It is classifying attributes, they do not break any canons of criminal law - said the lawyer Henry Resnik from the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Justice referring to the amendments - But clearly it is necessary to understand, that for dramatic success in the struggle against xenophobia and inflaming of ethnic hatred action is necessary . Gennady Gudkov, Duma (Russian parliament) deputy agrees. In his opinion, these amendments are acceptable and reasonable. However, the member of parliament considers that the problem is not the contents of laws, but in their implementation. Corruption makes any law senseless and ridiculous. Any accepted law, even the best and the most perfect, becomes ridiculous when its implementation is made impossible by corruption.

Apart from this, Gudkov is sure that any amendments to the legislation are not intended to eliminate the causes of such problems. This legislation is equivalent to treating a serious illness with aspirin, we are not attacking the causes of ethnic tension but only its outward manifestations, said the deputy. Total corruption, the immorality of officials and almost total corruption of the law-enforcement system results in ever more extremist forms of protest



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