Russian Duma Deputies Seek Defamation Charges Against Activist

Russia's state Investigative Committee has launched a libel probe following a complaint by two Russian lawmakers about insults leveled against "a representative of power."

The committee didn't mention the names of the lawmakers, but Russian media reported earlier that two State Duma deputies from the ruling United Russia party had asked prosecutors to file criminal charges against a gay-rights activist for insulting public officials.

According to reports, the request came from Deputy Yelena Mizulina -- head of the Committee on Women, Children, and Families and a leading sponsor of Russia's recently adopted law banning the "propaganda" of homosexuality to minors -- and Deputy Olga Batalina.

In a report on July 29 in the daily "Izvestia," they say activist Nikolai Alekseyev insulted them in a series of Twitter comments.

If charges are filed and Alekseyev is convicted, he could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 rubles ($1,200).

Mizulina told "Izvestia" that she was not offended by Alekseyev's Twitter posts, but felt obligated to "defend the interests of all deputies."

Based on reporting by "Izvestia" and Interfax