Russia Defamation Laws & Standards

Russia Defamation Law Articles

Article 144 of the Russian Criminal Code addresses violence or threats of violence exerted against journalists or their relatives, with the punishment for doing so being five years of corrective labor or up to six years in jail.

Defamation plaintiffs also can claim damages under Article 152 of the Civil Code of Russia.

Right To Be Forgotten Online

Similar to the European Union, Russia has a “right to be forgotten” law, which allows people to tell search engines to remove personal information about them under certain circumstances. The law was hastily drafted and passed in May 2015, and at the time of this writing, the jury is still out as to why this law was passed. Many people assume Russia’s “right to be forgotten” law will be used to some censorship end; time will tell if people’s suspicions pan out. You can read more about the new Russia defamation regulation here.

Defamation De-Criminalized, Then Re-Criminalized

On 17 November 2011, the Russian State Duma (parliament) repealed Articles 129 and 130 of the Criminal Code which provided for the criminalization of defamation and insult. But in 2012, Putin re-criminalized libel.

Truth can constitute a defense.

The decriminalization of the defamation and insult laws in Russia was welcomed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

A History of Silencing Critics Via Defamation Lawsuits

Defamation laws in Russia have been used to shield public figures and powerful individuals from forms of criticisms that are legitimate and healthy in a democratic society.

Many defamation cases are initiated by public figures and State bodies or officials. High awards for damages and disproportionate sentences (both monetary compensation and prison sentences), which have been widely criticized by international press, are often imposed.