Russia parliament passes controversial security bill

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Russian parliament on Friday passed on its crucial second reading a controversial new bill which critics say gives the security services powers similar to the Soviet-era KGB.

The bill, passed on 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.

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.

In response to protests from human rights activists, lawmakers removed an amendment allowing the FSB to summon people to their offices to hand out the warnings.

They also added a provision for people to appeal against the warnings.

The third and final reading, which is considered a technicality, is expected next Friday.

The bill has prompted howls of protest from the liberal opposition. Youth activists from the opposition Yabloko party were detained by police Friday after they protested by handcuffing themselves to a fence outside the State Duma.

The debate about the new bill comes at a time of increased global scrutiny of Russia's intelligence agencies after the spy swap to end an espionage scandal that threatened to harm relations between Russia and the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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