Russia is to introduce a new law before parliament which would for the first time allow criminal prosecution for match-fixing in football in the country, officials said Wednesday.
A proposal from Federal Audit Chamber chairman Sergei Stepashin received the strong support of the country's government and the new amendments to the state law about physical culture could be introduced before the end of 2012.
Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that the lower house of the country's parliament, the State Duma, had already created a group to prepare the new amendments.
"We hope the amendments will be ready for the Duma's consideration in the first half of this year," Mutko said.
"After that we are set to pass a new law about football before setting up the question about criminal liability for match-fixing. We will also take into consideration the international practice in this sphere."
"I believe the new law will be intact before the end of 2012," Mutko said in conclusion.
Anzor Kavazashvili, the head of the Russian Football Union (RFU) experts committee, which was established to struggle with match-fixing in Russian football, said he was happy with a new legislative initiative.
"It's a very timely initiative," Kavazashvili said. "The new law will become a serious weapon against match-fixing as the existing laws give us few chances to start a legal action against cheaters in our football."
"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared a war to the corruption in the country, while match-fixing is the main factor of corruption in football."
There's never been a proven instance of match-fixing in Russia, however, a set of unusual scorelines in the country's football championship has on occasion raised suspicions among observers, officials and football experts.
Meanwhile, the world football governing body FIFA recently issued a series of new measures to combat match-fixing, including an appeal for assistance to Interpol and the establishment of protection programmes for informants.