Moscow, July 30 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a defamation bill into law that carries a fine of up to $160,000, the Kremlin press service said Monday.
The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, has removed an originally proposed custodial sentence provision from the defamation bill.
Defamation will be punished by community work (up to 480 hours) or a fine. The maximum possible fine will be 5 million rubles ($160,000).
President Putin recently said the defamation statute should be reinstated in the Criminal Code.
Until now the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses stipulated fines of just 2,000 to 3,000 rubles (up to $100) for defamation.
The bill, which was passed by the Russian parliament within a week of being filed, has drawn fierce condemnation from critics who say it is intended to silence the opposition.