A number of Russian opposition lawmakers have presented a bill to the parliament in Moscow to punish those who deny the so called Armenian Genocide which allegedly took place in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
According to the bill, those who deny the atrocity will be fined the equivalent of over $7,500, Sergey Mironov from the A Just Russia party told reporters on Wednesday, just one day after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that had breached its airspace.
Armenian lobby groups claim that 1.5 million Armenians were killed as they were deported from their homes in what is today eastern Turkey.
So far, 25 countries as well as the European Parliament have recognised the atrocity as a genocide - a claim Turkey strongly denies.
The Republic of Turkey, which was founded upon the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, after the alleged massacres took place, admits a significant number of Armenians were killed in parts of eastern Turkey during the war, but refuses to acknowledge the incidents as genocide as many Turks were also killed by Armenian gangs assisting the Russian invasion of the region.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously offered to establish a joint-commission with Armenia to investigate the 1915 events, calling for other countries to contribute to the process if they have information on the case.
The Armenian side, however, has not accepted Erdogan’s call, but rather continues to seek international support for their claim.
Few countries have criminalised the denial of the so called genocide, including the Greek Cypriot administration in southern Cyprus, which in April introduced a new law stating that those who deny the genocide could face five years imprisonment and/or a fine of €10,000
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) at the time warned a new bill adopted by the Greek Cypriot administration may infringe on freedom of speech.