Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia proposes to establish criminal liability for propaganda in information telecommunication networks of illegal consumption of drugs, drug trafficking and cultivation or trafficking of drug-containing plants

“In pursuance of paragraph three of subitem ‘l’ of item 2 of the list of instructions of the President of the Russian Federation following a meeting with representatives of the public on the development of the Far East on September 6, 2019 (No. Pr-2196 of 10/25/2019), the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs developed a draft federal law “On introducing amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of liability for inducement to consumption of drugs, promotion of illegal consumption, trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or their analogs, turnover or cultivation of plants or parts thereof containing narcotics or psychotropic substances (hereinafter – the draft).

The draft is posted for public discussion.

In 2018, the police revealed 18,805 crimes under Article 228.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation committed using those technologies, and for 10 months of 2019 there were already 20,711 such crimes, which was 33.8% higher than for the same period of the previous year.

For the ten months of 2019, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs considered 34.9 thousand requests, with regard to which more than 19 thousand expert decisions were made on restricting access to Internet resources disseminating prohibited information about drugs (in 2018, more than 35 thousand requests were considered, for which more than 26.5 thousand expert decisions were made; in 2017, more than 47 thousand electronic appeals were considered, for which more than 20.5 thousand expert decisions were taken to block unlawful content).

In addition to this blocking, Article 6.13 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation (hereinafter – the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation) provides for liability for the promotion of drugs and drug-containing plants.

In the period from January to June 2019, law enforcement authorities suppressed 115 administrative offenses under Article 6.13 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, compiled 82 protocols (348 were suppressed in 2018, 235 protocols were compiled; in 2017 – 191 and 151, respectively).

Comparison of data on the amount of illegal information posted on the Internet with the number of cases of administrative offenses in this area indicates to insufficient effectiveness of applying this type of liability, because to clarify all the circumstances of an administrative offense, their registration, search for offenders, legal qualifications and appropriate process execution requires complex IT, linguistic and other examinations, which, as a rule, last for periods of time that go beyond the time frame of the administrative investigation.

In connection with the described draft law, it is proposed to criminalize the promotion of illegal consumption of drugs, drug trafficking, cultivation or trafficking of narcotic plants.

It is proposed to establish a criminal ban (Article 230.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) on the dissemination of information about illegal methods and methods of consumption, illicit trafficking or cultivation of drugs and drug-containing plants respectively that constitutes a public danger.

This article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation will not cover cases of dissemination of information on the trafficking and (or) consumption of drugs and drug-containing plants intended for medical use, for the implementation of professional activities of medical and pharmaceutical workers, as well as the provision of such information to those citizens who need drugs for medical reasons.

At the same time, other types of unlawful actions in terms of illegal drug propaganda committed with the use of information and telecommunication networks are proposed to be identified as separate administrative torts in a separate part of Article 6.13 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, providing for increased administrative liability, including that for legal entities.

The indicated corresponding changes are proposed to be introduced in the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation by a corresponding draft law.

In addition, part two of Article 230 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is proposed to be supplemented with such a qualifying feature as drug addiction using the media or electronic or information and telecommunication networks (including the Internet), establishing increased criminal liability.

At the same time, the draft-law provides for amendments to articles 31 and 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation regarding the determination of the jurisdiction and jurisdiction of a crime under draft article 230.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

The implementation of the proposed draft-law will not entail additional costs from the federal budget, nor will it affect the achievement of the goals of the state programs of the Russian Federation,” said the official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia Irina Volk.

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