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Police in Russia Might Soon be Allowed to Shoot at Women, Unless They ‘Look Pregnant’

The amendments suggest shooting at women should be allowed, unless there are "visible signs of pregnancy." Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

The amendments suggest shooting at women should be allowed, unless there are “visible signs of pregnancy.” Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

A group of lawmakers in Russia's State Duma have suggested expanding opportunities for the use of firearms with impunity by police, proposing changes to a law that currently prohibits police officers from firing into crowds or at women.

A set of amendments to the police law introduced into the lower house of the Russian parliament by Irina Yarovaya, a lawmaker from the United Russia party and head of the parliamentary security committee, suggests granting police officers a “presumption of trust and support,” meaning they would not have to face prosecution for any action taken while on official duty, so long as said action was for a valid purpose and in accordance with existing laws.

According to the present law, police are prohibited from shooting at women. The draft amendments would void this general rule: the ban on shooting would only apply if a woman exhibited “visible signs of pregnancy.” The new legislation would also allow police to shoot into crowds (currently forbidden), provided they were doing it “to prevent acts of terror or hostage situations.” Other suggested amendments include granting police the right to conduct searches of personal property and persons on grounds of “reasonable suspicion” instead of providing compelling evidence, and entitling police officers to enter private residences in order to detain individuals, even if they haven't yet been charged or officially declared criminal suspects.

Given the history of police brutality and prisoner abuse in Russia, some of the RuNet reactions to the law were quite predictable, with users lamenting the expansion of police powers and impunity.

Every sane person understands that the authorities are afraid of their own people more than the mythical enemy from the West.

Others joked that the lawmakers who proposed the amendments may have had ulterior motives, especially in regards to women.

Don't you know, it's a clever way to combat demographic problems. If you're knocked up, you have nothing to fear.

The proposed change to the norm of shooting at women seemingly caused the biggest uproar. Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova, who last year launched MediaZona, a new media portal devoted to reporting on issues and events in Russia's prison system, tweeted about her outrage.

Police will be permitted to legally open fire on women. “Those chicks have gotten out of hand,” the State Duma decided.

However, some Twitter users immediately questioned Tolokonnikova's indignation, latching onto her feminist image.

Nadya, you're a feminist, aren't you? Women should be as equal before the law as men.

Another part of the social media debate around the “presumption of trust” for Russian police revolved around comparisons with similar legislation in other countries. Some users drew parallels with the US, where the police force has faced public scrutiny in light of mass protests against police brutality in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.

In the US, police have had a lot of rights for quite a while.

We're almost approaching the legislation and rights of the police in the US. They can even shoot on “reasonable grounds” there.

The broken windows policy in action.

While the proposed amendments have yet to clear parliament, it seems the Russians are none to happy with the idea of giving the country's law enforcement more powers and fewer responsibilities.

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