Parliament approves controversial bill easing punishment for domestic abuse

The controversial bill will now be sent to the upper house of parliament for further approval.

Russian President Putin attends VTB Capital Russia Calling! Investment Forum in Moscow

The controversial bill, which the Kremlin has publicly defended, will now be sent to the upper house of parliament for further approval.

It would then need to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become a law.

Only three parliament members did not indicate support in Friday’s vote during the bill’s third and final reading in the lower house, state media reported. Three-hundred and eighty members voted in favour.

Earlier this week, the Kremlin insisted that the bill, to eliminate mandatory imprisonment for a first conviction for domestic violence, still foresees criminal liability for recidivists.

A co-author of the bill, Yelena Mizulina, who heads the lower house’s committee on family, women and children’s affairs, said earlier in a parliamentary debate that imprisonment for a “slap’’ is tearing families apart.

Critics believe that such legislation could cover up an endemic problem, often linked to alcohol abuse.

According to government statistics in recent years, about 12,000 Russian women die annually from domestic violence.

That equates to one woman every 40 minutes.

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