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Russia to Consider Letting Ex-Convicts Run for Office

© RIA Novosti . Vladimir Fedorenko / Go to the photo bankRussian State Duma
Russian State Duma - Sputnik International
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Russian lawmakers will consider letting people who have been convicted for serious crimes run in elections, on the condition that voters are told about their criminal records.

MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russian lawmakers will consider letting people who have been convicted for serious crimes run in elections, on the condition that voters are told about their criminal records. 

“As it turns out, people’s rights are affected, even though they’ve already been punished,” state lawmaker Sergei Ivanov of the nationalist LDPR party and author of the new bill said Tuesday. “The Constitution also states that no one can be punished twice for the same crime.” 

Ivanov has proposed abolishing constitutional restrictions prohibiting Russians who have been convicted of serious or very serious crimes, or for more minor administrative offenses like distributing “extremist” material, to run for office.

Serious offenses, according to Russian law, are those carrying prison terms of five to ten years; very serious crimes are punishable by more than ten years in jail. 

If the bill is passed, a candidate with a record would have to submit documentation of his conviction. That information would be included on the ballot, even if the conviction has been removed from official records.

In mid-October, Russia’s top court ruled that a 2012 law banning people convicted of grave crimes from running for office for life was unconstitutional, saying that a ban should depend on the severity of the crime.

Deputies from the ruling United Russia party have proposed another bill to bar those convicted of serious crimes from running for 10 years, and of very serious crimes for 15.

Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader convicted of embezzlement and given a five-year jail term in July, claimed the charges against him were politically motivated to prevent him from running for office in the future. The government denied the case was anything other than a criminal matter. Navalny won an unexpectedly high level of support in the September election for Moscow mayor despite the conviction, which was reduced on appeal to a suspended sentence in October.

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