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In Russia, giving one’s spouse a slap is nothing extraordinary for many people. Battery is a criminal offense in Russia, but nearly 20% of Russians openly say they think it is sometimes OK to hit a spouse or a child. 

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In a bid to accommodate conservative voters, deputies in the lower house of parliament have given initial approval to a bill eliminating criminal liability for domestic violence that stops short of serious bodily harm or rape.

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The bill stems from a Supreme Court ruling last summer to decriminalize battery that doesn’t inflict bodily harm. 

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Russia’s parliament voted 380-3 on Friday to decriminalize domestic violence in cases where it does not cause “substantial bodily harm” and does not occur more than once a year. 

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The move, which eliminates criminal liability in such cases, makes a violation punishable by a fine of roughly $500, or a 15-day arrest, provided there is no repeat within 12 months. 

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The bill now goes to the rubber-stamp upper chamber, where no opposition is expected. It then must be signed by President Vladimir Putin, who has signaled his support. 

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Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists that family conflicts do “not necessarily constitute domestic violence.” Andrei Isayev of the main Kremlin faction, the United Russia, said lawmakers are “heeding the public call” by correcting a mistake they made last year.

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