What is the new law about?
According to the law, which Putin signed on June 28, those who have already been convicted for inflicting any kind of beating will receive criminal punishment for repeated beatings, not administrative. Prior to this, there was a legal conflict: criminal liability was imposed only for repeated beatings, if a person was brought to administrative responsibility for the initial beatings. If he was prosecuted for some other kind of violence, for example, for causing minor or moderate bodily harm, then he, by beating, was considered to be prosecuted for the first time for beatings.
Everyone is confused, and even lawyers do not quite understand what the problem was, says Marie Davtyan. “Roughly speaking, if I beat and I am punished administratively, then the second time after the beatings I am punished criminally. If Ivanov broke Petrova's hand, and this is moderate harm, and then beat him again, then he will be brought to administrative responsibility again. There is no logic: the more serious the crime you commit, the less the degree of responsibility for beatings, ”the lawyer explained.
Lawyers have been asking for a long time to change the strange situation, but it was only possible to pay attention to it in 2016, thanks to bringing the case of Lyudmila Sakova to the Constitutional Court. She was beaten three times by her brother, and as a result, he received an administrative punishment because of the “legislative jamb”.
“We brought Sakova's case to the Constitutional Court in order to show this illogicality of the project. And here the situation is even more complicated, because there were three cases of beatings in a row. For the second case, the brother was prosecuted criminally, and for the third - administratively, as if he had committed them for the first time. Here is such a crooked norm. The Constitutional Court clarified this, and now people who have a criminal record for violent crimes, if they commit beatings, will be convicted in a criminal manner, and not in an administrative one,” Davtyan explained.
Will the new law affect the situation with domestic violence in Russia?
Globally, this law will not change almost anything, the lawyer says, although the news is seen in the media as some kind of change for the better.
“By and large, they fixed a clearly legislative jamb, but nothing more. Are there many such cases? They are. Not to say that this is a mass story, but such cases exist. Will apply? I think we'll see soon. How will this affect the domestic violence situation? No way. Initially, the media will say: “Hurrah! Tougher penalties for beatings! Now it will be the prevention of domestic violence.” Yes, nothing of the sort. Yes, the jamb was fixed, but on a global scale it doesn’t get any easier. ”
At the same time, beatings within the family extremely rarely become the subject of criminal proceedings. The situation worsened in January 2017, when the State Duma transferred the first case of domestic violence from criminal liability to administrative liability (Article 6.1.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation). The maximum punishment for primary beatings under this article is administrative arrest for up to 15 days, or compulsory work for up to 120 hours, or a fine of up to 30,000 rubles. Most often, a minimum fine is prescribed, lawyers say.
The law on domestic violence in Russia has not yet been adopted. In parallel with the de facto legalization of beatings, Russia refuses to ratify the Istanbul Convention, the first international document that legally obliges countries to fight domestic violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.
Change the system on the example of other cases
According to Davtyan, now the Center for the Protection of Victims of Violence is applying individual cases in order to carry out further changes in the legislation. She cited as an example last year the case of journalist Ekaterina Fedorova, connected with her publication in 2019 of a message on Facebook that she was raped by the co-owner of the PrimaMedia media holding Alexei Migunov. After the publication of the post on the social network and the appearance of media reports, Migunov filed a lawsuit against Fedorova, as well as Eva Moor and Olga Karchevskaya, who distributed the post. The lawsuit noted that the information "does not correspond to reality and discredits his honor, dignity and business reputation." The court considered that the information “defames the honor and dignity of the plaintiff, while the defendants did not provide evidence of the information.”
However, later the Ninth Court of Cassation of General Jurisdiction annulled the judicial acts of lower instances due to violations of substantive and procedural law and returned the case for a new trial. The Cassation found that the lower courts did not take into account and did not evaluate the fact that Fedorova published a story about her experience of sexual violence and that the present case constitutes a conflict between the right to freedom of expression of a woman survivor of sexual violence and the protection of her reputation.
In December 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) published a pilot judgment “Tunikova and others v. Russia” on the issue of domestic violence, obliging the Russian authorities to bring violence prevention legislation into line with the Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR communicated the complaints ( officially informed the government of the country about the applicants' claims ) of victims of domestic violence Natalia Tunikova, Margarita Gracheva, Elena Gershman and Irina Petrakova, combining them into one back in July 2019. The cases of Petrakova and Gracheva were accompanied by the Center for the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence at the Consortium of Women's Non-Governmental Associations.
The ECtHR concluded that all of these applicants suffered due to the fact that in Russia there are no legal mechanisms capable of preventing acts of violence. In December 2021, The Insider reported that the ECtHR ordered Russia to pay 370,660 euros to Margarita Gracheva, whose hands were cut off by her husband in 2017. In 2017, she was taken to one of the Moscow Region hospitals without hands. The husband of the victim on the same day turned to the police himself and admitted that he took his wife to the forest near the village of Skrylya and cut off her hands out of jealousy. At the same time, the woman had already complained to the police about threats from her husband, but the district police officer reacted to the statement only 18 days after the filing and limited himself to a preventive conversation. The Serpukhov city court sentenced Grachev to 14 years in a strict regime colony.