The Russian President tightening punishment on whom criticize the army or volunteers who fight on the fronts

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As fierce battles continue in eastern Ukraine between Russian and Ukrainian forces, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing penalties of up to 15 years in prison for criticizing the army or volunteers fighting on the fronts.

This severe punishment also included fines of up to 5 million rubles for defaming the reputation of the participants in the war, regardless of their status, as well as for publishing any fake news about the fighters or the course of the battles.

This decree intensified the previous punishment, which imposed a maximum of five years in prison for criticizing the army.

It also came after the approval of the Russian Parliament a few days ago, a law that tightens penalties for those who defame the Russian forces or even mercenaries fighting on Ukrainian soil.

However, Putin’s decision may carry other signs and perhaps a message to the head of the Wagner Military Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who detonated a heavy-caliber bomb a few days ago, calling for allowing Russian citizens to criticize senior military leaders and the army.

He said, in statements in which he crossed red lines that people should have the freedom to express their opinions, considering that only ordinary soldiers are above any criticism, but commanders are not.

He also added at the time, “The law against defamation should not apply to the staff of the leadership, that is, the Minister of Defense and other commanders who commit or could commit mistakes during a certain military operation,” referring to the ongoing battles on Ukrainian territory.

His position came as Putin’s old ally has been suffering for months from problems with the Ministry of Defense, especially after he directed frank and harsh criticism of Minister Sergei Shoigu and the General Staff, and accused the army leadership of obstructing the supply of equipment and reinforcements to his fighters.

Wagner, which has been fighting since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war on February 24, 2022, has formed a spearhead during the past weeks in the bloody and raging battles in the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.

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