Russia's parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to decriminalise domestic violence, a move the Kremlin claims will help support families but critics say will only worsen the problem.
Members of the lower house of parliament voted 380-3 in favour of the bill's third reading after senior officials spoke in favour of the measure. The bill is expected to be approved by the rubber-stamp upper house before President Vladimir Putin signs it.
Vyacheslav Volodin, who became parliament speaker last year after five years running the Kremlin's domestic policy, said earlier this week that the measure would strengthen the conservative social values promoted by the government.
"It's important to us that nobody interferes with families, that society appreciates these issues, and that the state creates conditions for building strong families," he said.
The bill's authors, led by Olga Batalina, Mr Volodin's protégé and former doctoral student, say their aim is to close a supposed loophole in a bill passed last summer that downgraded battery to a misdemeanour, but made domestic violence a criminal offence.