A group of Russian lawmakers led by Vitaly Milonov has proposed a law that would order a fine of 10,000 rubles (around $160 in U.S. money) for “verbally tormenting” athletes on the Russian national football team, according to a report from the Kremlin-controlled RT news outlet.
Russian bill would outlaw criticism of national team
The idea for the law came to Milonov only recently, according to RT, which explains why he’s getting around to proposing the bill while the World Cup is already underway. Milonov, who can likely relate to any Twitter troll who goes after writers that are negative about their beloved team, believes that criticizing the team hurts morale and is to blame for the team’s negative results.
“They represent our state and the scoundrels who insult them insult the whole nation,” Milonov said in an interview with Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. “Some idiots make fun of them and spoil their pre-game moods. If our footballers lose we should blame those who insulted our boys.”
It remains unclear how widespread enforcement of the law could reach in Russia and who it could apply to, but it’s a natural step for a country that already has an infamous history of propaganda and suppression of dissent.