Europe

Russian parliament decriminalizes forms of domestic violence

The lower house of the Russian parliament has given final approval to a bill decriminalizing some forms of domestic violence.

The State Duma voted 380-3 Friday to eliminate criminal liability for battery on family members that doesn't cause bodily harm, making it punishable by a fine or a 15-day arrest. The law needs to be approved by the largely rubber-stamp upper chamber and signed by President Vladimir Putin, who has signaled his support.

The bill has raised fears that it could sow impunity for those who beat up their family members, but its supporters have argued that it retains criminal responsibility for repeat offenders.

The measure is a response to conservative activists' criticism of the current legislation, seen by some as a threat to parents who might spank their children.