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Racist graffiti on the walls of St. Petersburg (AFP)
July 8, 2006 -- Russia's lower house of parliament today approved an anti-extremism bill that human rights defenders say could be used to curb opposition activities and the media.
Supporters of the legislation say it will curb racist attacks.
Opponents, including major human rights groups, say it could be used to outlaw a range of political opposition activities and curb the independent media.
The bill expands the definition of extremism to include slander of public officials. Hindering the work of the authorities would also be considered extremist, as would involvement in riots, hooliganism, or vandalism for ideological, religious, political, or ethnic motives.
The State Duma passed the bill by 338 votes to 99. There was one abstention.
Yusuf Sultonov, whose 9-year-old daughter was beaten and stabbed to death in St. Petersburg on February 9, 2004 (TASS)
EXTREMISM ASCENDANT: More than half of Russians have xenophobic views, according to a report published in August 2005. In the report, rights groups say that -- despite progress in some areas -- racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism remain rife in Russia. But what worries watchdogs most are recent moves by nationalist-patriotic movements to form paramilitary groups....(more)
A Timeline Of Recent Racial Incidents
Russian Ombudsman Condemns Hate Crimes
Hate Crime Trial Highlights Mounting Racism
Minister Says Russia Can't Stop Xenophobia Alone
For African Students In Russia, Affordable Education Comes At A Price
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