Russian parliament passes controversial security bill

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The Russian parliament Friday passed a controversial bill expanding what rights groups say are already formidable powers of the successor to the Soviet-era KGB security service.

A total of 354 deputies in the State Duma, the lower house, voted for the bill on its third and final reading, and 96 against, an AFP correspondent said.

The bill -- which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says was drawn up on his instructions to improve existing legislation -- 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 bill.

Rights groups say the bill, which would essentially put the special service above the law, harks back to Soviet times when the much-feared FSB predecessor KGB used warnings to persecute dissidents.

© 2010 AFP

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