MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday gave its final approval to a new law that would allow the authorities to confiscate property from people convicted of deliberately spreading fake news about the army.

The chamber, the State Duma, approved the legislation in its third and final reading by 377 out of a possible 450 votes for, none against and no abstentions, according to footage of the session released by the Duma.

“Why to this day is there no law that protects soldiers fighting for our country, dying for our country, for (their) families … why is there no law that protects them?” chairman Vyacheslav Volodin told lawmakers during the session.

“Why is there no law that punishes the rascals who stab our fighters, soldiers and officers in the back? Many of them … have left the country. But how can we influence them?” he said, answering his own question: “Confiscation of property.”

Russia has cracked down on dissent over its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which Moscow called a special military operation, as the war between the two countries rumbles on.

The measure will apply to those found guilty of “discrediting” the armed forces, those calling for sanctions against Russia and those found guilty of inciting extremist activity.

The law, which will still needs to be approved by the upper house of parliament and President Vladimir Putin, would also allow the state to seize the property of Russians who have left the country and have criticised the war in Ukraine while continuing to rely on revenue from renting out their houses or apartments in Russia.

(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Andrew Osborn, John Davison and Christina Fincher)

Brought to you by