Russia may agree disputed security law this week: deputy

5th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Russian parliament may this week agree a controversial new bill which critics say gives the security services powers similar to the Soviet-era KGB, a leading deputy said on Monday.

The bill, passed in a first reading on June 11, would allow the Federal Security Service (FSB) to issue official warnings to individuals whose actions are deemed to be creating the conditions for crime.

It also allows the FSB, the modern Russian successor to the KGB, to summon individuals to its premises to be issued with the warning, a move its opponents say is a throwback to the arbitrary detentions of Soviet times.

Individuals deemed to have hindered an FSB employee in his work can also be fined or held in detention for up to 15 days, according to the draft law.

"We hope that the bill will be adopted in the State Duma on Friday," said the head of the lower house of parliament's security committee Vladimir Vasilyev.

He told AFP that amendments to the bill would be discussed at a meeting of the security committee on Tuesday, after which it would be possible to pass it in both the second and final third readings this week.

The bill has prompted howls of protest from the liberal opposition and activists from the opposition Yabloko party last week gathered signatures opposing the new law outside the State Duma.

"We do not need this draft bill widening the duties of the FSB. It is not thought through and is hurried," Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights told the Izvestia newspaper.

"The security forces already have wide-ranging powers," he added.

The debate about the new bill comes at a time of increased global scrutiny of Russia's intelligence agencies, after the arrest in the United States of 10 alleged agents for the FSB's external espionage equivalent, the SVR.

© 2010 AFP

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