>> Overwhelming backing in Russia's parliament on Wednesday for a bill easing some penalties for domestic violence, reducing it to a civil offense, not a criminal one, if the victim suffers no serious physical harm. The draft law alarming women's rights campaigners who fear it will encourage abuse. Those who support it, including members of President Vladimir Putin's party, say they want to lessen state meddling in family life.
Reuters' Moscow bureau chief, Christian Lowe.>> Well there's a trend happening here and Putin is a part of it. And that is to see certain liberal social values as imposed from the West. And it's very much tied up with the Russian Orthodox Church, who promotes, what they say, are traditional family values.
And another area that we see it is in the attitude towards homosexuality.>> About 14,000 women die every year in Russia at the hands of their husbands or other relatives, according to the UN. Lowe says that there's broad support for Putin's socially conservative drive.>> Opinion polls show that generally, yes, it is popular amongst the large swathe of the population.
There are dissenters, of course. There's probably significant numbers of people, especially a sort of urban intelligency in places like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, who find this very retrograde. And they feel much closer to sort of European liberal values, and they really resist this sort of thing, but they're not in the majority.
>> To become law, the bill must pass a further reading and win approval from the upper house. Wednesday's yes vote was 385 for, to 2 against, so opposition looks unlikely.