In the wake of a scandal caused last year by a protest by punk band Pussy Riot against Russian President Vladimir Putin, held in a Moscow cathedral, a law has been passed by the State Duma to criminalise insulting people’s religious feelings.

If the controversial bill is passed by the Upper House and signed by the President, the law could come into effect as soon as July. The legislation makes insulting a person’s religious beliefs a criminal offence, punishable by up to three-years in prison.

The bill was passed today by the State Duma with 308 votes to 2. The bill gathered the 226 votes necessary to be approved.

In August, Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were jailed for two years for staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest, with a song that mentioned the country’s persecuted LGBT citizens in a Moscow cathedral on 21 February 2012.

According to the bill which was approved on Tuesday in its second and third readings, insulting the feelings of religious believers, including vandalism, or desecration of holy sites, would be punishable by compulsory labour, up to three years in prison, and/or fines of up to 500,000 rubles (£10,000).

In addition, obstructing the activities of a religious group, or the holding of a religious ceremony, would also be a criminal offence, punishable by a 300,000 (£6,000) ruble fine, and/or prison for up to three months, reports RIA Novosti.

If the law were to pass, and is broken by a state official, they would be sent to prison for up to one year, and would be banned from government posts for up to two years.

A Russian citizen publicly desecrating or destroying a religious object on purpose would face a fine of up to 200,000 rubles (£4,000)

The bill has seen strong support from conservative activist groups, as well as the Russian Orthodox Church.

Earlier today, the Russian Duma also gave final approval to a bill to ban “homosexual propaganda” to minors, and the media. Similar laws have already been passed regionally in ten different areas of Russia, but this bill would impose the law nationwide.