News / Europe

Russian Opposition Sees Shadow of KGB in New Security Bill

Russia's upper house of parliament has approved a controversial bill expanding the powers of the domestic security agency. Opponents say the new law will make the agency more like its Soviet-era predecessor the KGB.

A new bill approved by the Russian parliament gives the country's domestic intelligence agency, known as the FSB, the power to issue warnings to people suspected of plotting crimes.

It passed by a large majority in the Duma with the support of the ruling United Russia party headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Following approval by the Federation Council, the bill now goes to President Dmitri Medvedev for his signature.

Sergei Markov, a Duma deputy and member of United Russia, supports the bill, and says the changes it will bring have been greatly exaggerated by opponents.

"It's almost nothing. It just the right to send some kind of warning to the people the FSB has information that their activity could potentially lead to a contradiction to the law," said Markov. "I think criticism of this law is more propaganda."

He says mostly the law is intended to confront terror threats originating in the North Caucasus, the scene of ongoing violence linked to Islamist extremists. As an example of how the law could be helpful, he says it could alert non-governmental organizations that terrorists are attempting to infiltrate their ranks.

But some rights groups believe the new law has an alternate purpose: to stifle dissent and to scare political activists away from holding protests and rallies.

Markov says that is not the case and that there are no consequences for ignoring a warning from the FSB.

"After receiving such general warning from FSB, every political figure has the right to do what they really want to do," added Markov. "If they really want to organize a protest rally they can do this very easily and pay no attention to such kind of warning."

Rights activist Ludmilla Alexeeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, is not convinced. She says the new law reminds her of a warning she received for her political activities in 1974, when KGB agents arrived at her place of work in a black car and immediately detained her.

She says a lot will depend on how Russians respond to it.

She says "People might protest actively against FSB intrusion into their personal and social life, or the might behave like scared rabbits." She adds, "Let's wait and see. Some laws just don't work."

Hoping to get wider backing, supporters watered down the legislation. Initially under the legislation, if FSB, suspected a citizen of preparing to commit a crime, the agency could summon the person for an interview. Failing to appear could mean jail time. That language was removed.

Opposition groups have been actively protesting the bill as it has moved through parliament. Three activists with the liberal Yabloko party were reportedly detained Friday as they protested outside the Duma.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid